SPECIAL MEETING … Gathered for a shorter meeting, to cover one specific topic on January 23, 2023, Montpelier School Board approved a contract for the new fitness center. From left to right that evening, were Superintendent Jamie Grime, Treasurer Carla Rice, board member Dunne Gambler, President Nate Rose, and board members Jeremy Clinger, Patti Rockey and Shawn Owen. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
Montpelier School Board held a special meeting with all members present on Monday evening, January 23, 2023, to vote on a “resolution expressing an intent to award a construction contract and authorize the superintendent and treasurer to enter into said contract upon compliance with all conditions precedent related to the Fitness Center Addition Project.”
A contract was awarded to Mel Lanzer Company, as the lowest and best bidder, at a base cost of $578,600. All costs for the project to be paid by ARP ESSER funds.
This project will be added to the recreation center on the northwest corner of the building.
Prior to the passage of this resolution, which did occur unanimously at the end of the meeting, board members Patti Rockey and Dunne Gambler had a number of questions which were answered throughout the discussion, which was held with three other people present for the meeting.
Rockey began the discussion by asking, “How did we get this far? Was there discussion? I was researching minutes and I saw that we hadn’t been awarded it in of May of 2021, and then all of a sudden in May of 2022 we were going for architecture with Chris Kannel.”
She clarified immediately that she is “not against this project. I am just trying to be a better board member and understand it. How did we arrive?”
Superintendent Jamie Grime said that when he wrote the grant there was some discussion.
They discussed the amount of money the school was given and for what the funds were used, especially concerning learning loss in the elementary.
Grime said they covered some teacher salaries for the 8th period which took about $250,000.
Treasurer Carla Rice said that when they were getting the grants, nothing ever was brought up as specific needs.
Gambler asked if it would be possible to have a “master wish list from the teachers” so they would be ready with some ideas when money comes in.
Rice said that a few specifics were brought up, but they were not things that the money could be used for.
Rockey said that in the future she would like to “do a better job communicating with our teachers and administrators and making them feel like they can contact us and we are going to listen.”
Grime shared some examples of recent times they have gathered the teachers to get input on what they want. “We could do a better job, yes, but we are doing it some.”
The funds have to be used by September 2023, and Lanzer’s deadline is to be completed by August 2023.
There was some discussion concerning the amount of money left from the ARP money. Rice said they have $632,000 left with $54,000 “wiggle room.”
The engineer’s estimate for the fitness center addition was $600,000. It was agreed that they have heard good things about Lanzer and are comfortable with awarding the contract to them.
Gambler said that she had emailed Grime and Rice ahead of time and wanted to share the information she had gained from that…
-The vision for the space is weightlifting, for student athletes and for the community.
-The equipment they already have will be used, with a few supplemental additions.
-The field house space use is open for discussion and creative suggestions. Grime said it could possibly have a small space for football officials to change and a little larger office for track and field and football coaches. A limited amount of football equipment will be kept there.
-There is no need for specialized training for the teacher, or parental consent for weightlifting class. Grime assured everyone that the teacher has all of the important training that is needed, which includes CPR, first aid and other certifications. “The risks are low as our maintenance takes great care of all of the equipment.”
-There will be cameras, and a card swipe is needed to get into the room.
Gambler stated that she is not against the project in any way either, but she wants them to be well covered insurance wise.
“I would like for us to have a robust mitigation insurance plan.” Rice said that when community members get their key card, they sign off on the form for liability.
The insurance company has been approached and the weight room is covered under the same agreement and forms are on file.
There was some further discussion about weightroom details.
It was agreed that they want the community to be aware that the recreation center is open to the public for use for health and fitness by walkers, families who want to play ball with their kids, and when the new portion is built and open, to use as well.
Anyone interested in getting a key card to use the facility can get information at Montpelier-K12.org or call 419-485-6700.
Mr. Grime said, “It is your facility. It is not our facility. It is your facility.”
Mr. Grime gave a passionate explanation that weightlifting is “so much more.”
They not only lift weights. They learn to cheer each other on and celebrate each other’s successes, they learn to set goals for themselves, take their health into their own hands and to have confidence in themselves.
Some of the students who get involved are not involved in sports, but this gives them a sense of accomplishment and they are committed to something special.
“All the comments I have heard from parents have been primarily positive,” he said. “You can see that some of the basketball players look different than they did a year ago because they have been lifting weights.”
Village council member Nate Thompson who was present, shared his perspective as well, stating, “I think you are on the right path.”
“Montpelier needs to change its perspective on what we should be doing for our community.”
“Williams County Health Commissioner Jim Watkins just reported that Williams County is above average in the obesity rate and we need somehow to combat that.”
“The school is doing it with this good option and the village is trying to do that by offering the trail projects.”
“We are giving people an avenue to get out of the house, go out and do something besides being on the couch. We are giving people a reason to get out. Our residents deserve it.”
The thought was also raised that it is important to take care of the kids needs academically. Mr. Grime said he is always open to any suggestions for classes that need to be held.
Rockey pointed out the need to be sure that nutrition and health are taught alongside the weightlifting.
President Nate Rose read Item 2.1, pertaining to the project, and the board all voted in favor of the project. With no further business, the meeting adjourned.
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