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School board discusses accessibility ramp for Todd Field and solar garden

Hasting School Board approved three hirings, gave out "employees of the semester" awards and discussed progress for ongoing projects at its Jan. 23 meeting.

The board discussed the possible options for a new accessibility entrance at Todd Field and an energy bill-cutting "solar garden" contract with Renesola — a green-energy product manufacturer based out of California. Board members also approved several assignment changes for district employees, one resignation and other minor administrative decisions.

In a phone interview after the board meeting, Hastings Public Schools Superintendent Tim Collins said that the solar garden's 25-year contract is still being finalized, but that the project would potentially save the district about $108,000 in energy savings annually once completed.

The green-energy project would be stretched across three separate sites: Northfield, Warsaw and Walcott, Collins said.

The project has no cost for the district, and Renesola would actually pay the district $80,000 for the commitment to using the solar garden's energy. He said the School Board would likely hold a special meeting to vote on a finalized contract within the next week.

Collins also discussed a new accessibility ramp for Todd Field. He said that the project doesn't have to be completed soon, but tentative ideas ranged from a costly "mega-ramp" about 70 feet long to an elevator lift.

The field is currently accessible from 10th Street from an elevated street level, but the potential ramp would be closer to the stadium's new parking lot, handicap entrance, concession and ticket stands.

"Our facility committee said that if our parking lot is down on the main grass area, and our handicap accessibility is on that main level ... should we or should we not have a ramp," Collins said to board members.

The cost of a new accessible entrance would fit within the school's existing budget, Collins said at the meeting.

The board recognized the following employees for its "employees of the semester" award.

• Nancy Bauer, Hastings Middle School's Welcome Center secretary

• Jaci Cobian, Pinecrest Elementary School second grade teacher

• Pam Hoffman, the district's food nutrition services secretary

• Katie McBride, McAuliffe Elementary School fourth grade teacher

• Kate Mikla, Tilden Community Preschool special education lead teacher

• Rochelle Nielsen, Hastings High School Spanish teacher

The board also approved the recent hirings of three district employees: Maria Dumer, Dominique Lindekugel and Aleaha Zabel.