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LASD Board selects schematic design for new elementary school

The Ludington School Board of Education on Monday selected the schematic design for its new elementary school. The board chose the design from five that were developed by a committee earlier this year.

“Two of those were one story solutions, one being a combination one story, two story complex and two being a multi story complex,” said Superintendent Jason Kennedy. “There were activities that were done like dot polling that helped the committee select the top designs.”

Two designs emerged from those sessions that were presented to the board Monday. Schematic Design A was a one-story design with multiple points of entry off of Bryant Road, an upper elementary playground, a lower elementary playground and classroom wings. It was most similar to the concept that was shown to the public during the bond campaign, according to Kennedy.

The other design shown to the board was labeled as Plan D, and it included a two-story concept and has an outdoor learning space similar to the Plan A, according to Kennedy. The plan comes with some extra costs.

“Once you start to introduce some architectural design into the building, and you move away from square 90-degree angles, you increase costs (and) increase square footage,” Kennedy said. “In Scenario D, there is no assurance from the construction management company that the building will be opening the fall of 2021.”

Kennedy pointed out Monday that these concepts show just the scheme. In the design phase, the details of the building will begin to come to life.

Now that the schematic design has been selected, GMB Architecture and Engineering can begin to be clear the site for the building of a new elementary complex with ground breaking taking place somewhere in April 2020, Kennedy said.

“To prepare for that, it is important for GMB to begin designing a scheme that we can then go to the community, parents, students and staff in seeking input,” he said.

The new elementary school will be located on 15 acres of the Outcalt property.

The board also chose to go with Nordlund & Associates to districts geotechnical soil boring. The local company came in with the lowest bid at $7,600 plus $15 per linear foot.

Staffing

The board of education, as part of the district’s concent agenda, approved contracts for non-union employees.

Sarah Cooper was hired as the director of the Pere Marquette Early Childhood Center. Cooper is the Great Start Readiness preschool teacher at West Shore Educational School District, and she would take over for Julie Marshall, who retired.

Brent Gillett was hired as the director of recreation programs, and he most recently was the dean of students at Foster Elementary School. The district would need to fill his current position.

The annual contracts of Melanie Tomaski, director of Oriole Work Based Learning Academy, and Michelle Holtrust, director of online learning, were renewed.

Kelly Hatch was hired to teach science at O.J. DeJonge Middle School, and she replaces Rachael Wilbur who accepted a science position at L’Anse Public Schools in L’Anse.

Other business

In other business, the board approved:

• Approved the milk bid to Prairie Farms and the bread bid to Aunt Millie’s. Kennedy noted the costs for bread remained the same, while the milk prices to the district went up a fraction of a cent.

• Approved a request from Ludington Area Catholic School, Covenant Christian School and Gateway to Success Academy to form a co-operative program with Ludington Area Schools for middle school cross country and track. Kennedy said there are a handful of athletes who participate in those sports and want to do so with the district’s student-athletes. None of the schools have enough athletes to have a complete team in either sport.

• In a special meeting, that was held at 5:30 p.m., the board approved the reinstatement of two students to the district.


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Flipstar Gymnastics at Ludington Library

An audience of kids and parents at the Ludington Library Monday afternoon watched as about 27 girls from Flipstar Gymnastics participated in an expo for the public.

The performance included flips, jumps, tumbles, somersaults, handstands, floor routines and much more.

Audience members got to see up-close a little bit of what it takes to be a gymnast and to learn more about the Flipstar Gymnastics program.


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Back to School Backpack Bonanza returns Friday

Back to School

Backpack Bonanza returns Friday

The Back to School Backpack Bonanza event will be hosted Friday, Aug. 23, from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Ludington Area Jaycees’ Mini Golf Course at Stearns Park, 900 W. Ludington Ave. in Ludington. The free event is open to children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Participants will receive a free backpack and a free round of mini golf, as well as a free school supply item at each hole completed. A parent or guardian must be present in order for children to participate. Parents can also play mini golf for free by first completing a Jaycees survey. The event is limited to the first 300 participants.

Transportation will be available upon request for families in Scottville, Custer and Walhalla. For transportation or more information, call Kerry Terryn at (231) 233-4926.


Local
Scottville talks lift station work, CSX rental

SCOTTVILLE — Because of increasing projected costs associated with replacing a wastewater lift station primarily used by the City of Scottville, city officials are hoping that cost-saving measures can be identified to offset the near $900,000 cost of the work.

The city commission discussed the lift station replacement bids Monday at city hall, where City Manager Courtney Magaluk addressed the issue.

“We thought it was going to be a price tag of around $400,000, but by the time it went through engineering and design, it was up to $625,000,” City Manager Courtney Magaluk said about the work. ”There were two bids that came back in response to that, and right now we’re looking at another 33 percent beyond that point, so the amount we’d have to borrow for this work is almost double what we’d anticipated.”

Magaluk said the project bids go through the Mason County Drain Commission, which meets Wednesday. She said the hope is that the commission will be able to identify some ways in which the cost of replacing the lift station might be reduced.

Magaluk emphasized that, though the lift station is old, the replacement is not needed because it’s failing — rather, it’s needed because of added volume as a result of rainwater getting into the sewer system and other issues.

“We know we have an issue with infiltration … which adds to the volume,” she said. “Our DPW has been proactive in identifying those cross-connections and they’ve seen volume drop down a bit.”

Magaluk added that there’s a possibility continued vigilant efforts to prevent rainwater infiltration into the sewer system could reduce the volume.

To date, two bids have been submitted for — one from Jason Merkey for $855,475 and one from K&R for $867,500. Either of those options, combined with about $75,000 for contingencies, would bring project to about $234,475 over budget, according to Mason County Drain Commissioner Dennis Dunlap.

Dunlap told the Daily News previously that he hopes the drain commission can, at its upcoming meeting, get to the bottom of why the bids are so much higher than expected.

CSX rental fees

Commissioners also made a decision to “step away” from negotiations with CSX Transportation, the railroad company from which the city rents a portion of property on the north side of the railroad tracks between Columbia and Blaine streets, after the company attempted to impose an increased rental fee on the city in early August.

On Aug. 6, commissioners learned that CSX was asking for the annual rent the city pays for the property — which it uses to store snow in the winter — from $115 to $650. Based on a recommendation from Mayor Bruce Krieger, the city made a counter-offer to pay $215 and continue handling maintenance on the property, including lawn-mowing and general upkeep.

Magaluk said she has spoken with representatives from CSX since then, and said the rent increases are being imposed in multiple locations by the company.

“They gave me a verbal indication that they have been negotiating on a lot of these (leases in other areas) … and they’re settling in the $300 range rather than the $215 that we were hoping for.”

Magaluk asked commissioners how they would like to proceed, and Krieger responded.

“We made them an offer, and until they make a counter-offer I don’t think we should do anything,” Krieger said. “Maybe, as Commissioner (Rob) Alway has stated, we should bill them for mowing the property.”

Magaluk confirmed that the $300 annual amount was not an official counter-offer to the city, but rather an informal estimate of the amount the company had been settling for in other cases.

Magaluk asked if commissioners wished to get a formal second offer or walk away altogether.

Alway made a motion to “step away from negotiating with CSX and, in exchange, request that they follow our ordinances just like any other property owner when appropriate.”

The motion was supported by Brian Benyo, and approved unanimously by the full commission.

“We’ll find somewhere else to put snow,” Alway said.

The commission will send the company a letter asking them to adhere to grass-mowing and other property maintenance ordinances, and bill CSX for any upkeep costs that fall back on the city.

Other business

Also on Monday, commissioners decided to pursue legal action against a homeowner regarding a blighted property on South Reinberg Avenue.

City Attorney Tracy Thompson outlined the city’s options for addressing the property during Monday’s meeting.

“We have a couple different avenues we could pursue,” Thompson said. “We could give the homeowner a ticket — a couple hundred bucks … the other option is a lawsuit.”

Commissioners approved a motion from Krieger to pursue legal action In a 6-1 vote, with Alway, Marcy Spencer, Connie Duncil, Krieger, Sally Cole and Sue Petipren voting in favor of the measure and Benyo voting against.

Spencer said the city’s finance and ordinance committee supported the lawsuit “100 percent.”

“(The homeowner) has received many tickets and it’s never resulted in anything other than more of the same,” Spencer said.

Thompson agreed, adding that the decision to pursue legal action “is not a sudden decision on behalf of the city, and that will be made clear to a judge.”

The case will be heard in 51st Circuit Court, according to Thompson.