Renovation to MHS gym approved
By Brian L. Gray
Plans are in place to upgrade the Mandan High School gymnasium.
The Mandan School Board approved to cover roughly half of the $367,164 cost to improve the gym, which will include a brand new court floor and bleachers. Private donations will also help to cover the expenses. Superintendent Mike Bitz says that at least $40,000 will come from local businesses. In addition to private support, the Mandan City Commission has approved $146,000 to help fund the project, which will be covered by the Mandan Visitor’s Fund. The gym was approved for the funds because it brings in roughly 45,000 out-of-town visitors a year to Mandan.
The gym floor is roughly 50 years old and has been refinished several times. Each time the floor is refinished a fraction of an inch is shaved from the floor, and playing on the gym today is likened to “playing on a concrete floor,” says Mandan architect Al Fitterer.
Work is expected to begin in late May and be complete by the end of August.
City commissioner Dennis Rohr said that with the loss of the Mandan Community Center, the community has not been able to host large scale events like it had in the past, with flea markets and gun shows, for example. Rohr asked if the gym would be able to host events such as those again.
Bitz responded, “We do rent the gym out, but we are limited with the kind of events that can be run there.” He added that since the gym is also a classroom, the days it is available are limited.
Bitz says that if funding had not come through, the district would have waited another year to pursue the idea. “This was not something that was on the top of our priority list. But we were approached by our business community and they made the suggestion, and once the visitor’s fund was brought to our attention we decided to move forward with it.”
The school district sought the Visitor’s Fund grant because the school’s funds did not allow for any upgrades to the gym. “We set roughly $400,000 a year aside to maintain our buildings. And it’s hard to get ahead with that much divided between eight buildings,” Bitz said.
In addition to the gym renovation, the school board has also approved its projects for the summer season.
Some of the major projects include improving the drainage on the north side of the Brave Center, paving grass in the front of the Mandan Middle School, new carpeting at the Fort Lincoln library and new tiling of its second, third and fifth grade classrooms, a bathroom remodel and new gym floor at Mary Stark, the addition of air conditioning at Custer’s computer lab, new tiling on Lewis & Clark’s gym and roof repairs and carpeting of offices and the computer room at Roosevelt.
In a separate motion, the school board also appointed Sheldon Wolf as the rural representative on the school board. Wolf will complete the term of Beth Allen, who resigned from the position to spend more time with her family.
Four candidates are also in the running for three open seats on the school board this year. Tim Rector, Lori Faraus, Wendy Egli and Lorraine Davis will be running for the three spots.
Rector is the only incumbent in the running. The seats held by current board members Karen Jahner and Kirsten Baesler will be the other two seats available. Both board members have decided not to run for reelection.
The election will be held on Tuesday, June 11, at two locations – The Brave Center and Spirit of Life Church.