Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

Large crowd attends new school groundbreaking


Lois E. Johnson

School representatives, students, city officials, legislators and construction officials break ground for the new Moose Lake school July 4. Front, left to right: Lisa Anderson-Reed, Julie Peterson, Stephen Blondo, Carley Aho, Maddy Gamst, Supt. Bob Indihar, Samantha Youngs, Kris Lyons, Jamie Jungers. Back: Tom Paull, Ted Shaw, Rep. Mike Sundin, Sen. Tony Lourey, Joanne Unzen, Scott Sosalla, Kirk Ilenda, Billie Jo Steen, Kraig Konietzko. Not pictured: Barney Hollis.

Ground was broken in a ceremony at the school bus garage, near the site of the new school, in Moose Lake on July 4, in the early afternoon.

The program featured essays by elementary students Carley Aho and Samantha Youngs and high school student Maddy Gamst, who all spoke about what the new school will mean to them, other students and the community. All were winners of the essay-writing contest, held during the school year.

"The staff, students, teachers and everyone in the school district pulled together as a community to make it happen," said Carley. "When the new school building is nearly completed, we would like to help with the landscaping. Of course, we will need to ask permission from a parent or legal guardian."

"The new school will give us a fresh new start," said Samantha. "There will be more opportunities and better equipment for years to come. There will be more chances to help people with disabilities, and it will create a better future for me and for the community."

"Why should you care?" asked Maddy. "Seeing the signs on the businesses when the Rebels head to the tournaments shows community pride.

"The old school burned in 1935. My great-grandmother, Lorraine Brown, cheered when it burned. But then she found out that she would have to go to school in a church basement. Her excitement diminished.

"The community, including people 90 years of age, voted for the new school. The kids today will have a new school, and better opportunities, such as STEM education. We would not have been able to do that before. Our community has been looking for new opportunities for a while now.

"This is going to be much more than a new building. It will show that, we as a community, invest in our future, and that the community is ready for change. That will last for 10, 50 or even 100 years from now."

Superintendent Robert Indihar explained that the essays will be included in the time capsule that will become part of the new school.

State Sen. Tony Lourey explained that it was a complicated process to pass the legislation for triple equity funding for school districts in the state that were damaged in natural disasters.

"People get tired of government and say it doesn't work," he said. "Who can say better than the kids, this was a community effort. All of the people, the senators and the representatives played a role in passing this legislation. People, especially the kids, played a role in recovery after the flood happened.

"I spoke with Louie Butkiewicz, and he said that the first referendum to build a new school on this site was 43 years ago. After the flood, it was more important than ever to make it a reality.

"Severe weather events are not a thing of the past. We'll see more of them.

"This was a great victory for the entire state and especially for this community."

State Rep. Mike Sundin spoke about the state of education in the past and in the future.

"There is a whole different language today," he said. "Careers, like medical technology, have skyrocketed. There is no way that we could have imagined 40 years ago what education would be like today. And no one knows what will happen in the next 40 years.

"Now you will have a new school to learn these things in."

Scott Sosalla of ARI, the architects for the new school, said, "Community involvement made this happen. This will truly be a community building when it is done."

He invited people to walk around the property, where the site of the new school had been outlined in red tape.

Kirk Ilenda of Boldt Construction, the construction manager of the project, spoke about how he had been called when the flood came into the current school building. He also spoke about the tremendous outpouring of people from the community who came to assist in recovery.

"It is a tremendous privilege to be building in Moose Lake," he said. "Our firm is building the beautiful new 25-bed Mercy Hospital, and we'll be working on this new 140,000 square foot school. It will be awesome when it is done.

"This building will be where the kids will go to school, and where many of us will work and earn our livelihood."

Joanne Unzen, a teacher representing Education Minnesota – Moose Lake, said the teachers are thrilled that a new school is going to be built.

"This school will be a brand new chapter in the history of Moose Lake," she said.

Moose Lake School Board Chair Kris Lyons told of how long it has been said that a new school would be built on the site.

"Mike Vogal came to Moose Lake in 1960 and was told that there would be a new school during his teaching career," she said. "I came in 1977 and was told that there probably would be a new school before the end of my teaching career.

"Now we are seeing a new school coming because of a unique piece of legislation.

"This is huge!

"Because of the historic flood, we dared to go for new legislation. We dared to go for a new school with more opportunities.

"We believed in our youth and their ability to succeed, achieve, and to change the world.

"You can take people out of Moose Lake but you can't take Moose Lake out of the people.

"When we get to 2017, we are going to have a whole new school. We have the Moose Lake magic that made this happen."

Autumn Voices and the Moose Lake Community Band provided the music during the program. The groundbreaking ceremony followed the program.


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