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Authorities search river for missing man

Authorities were searching for an elderly Hutchinson man this past week who was believed to have fallen into the Crow River.

The search began after Gordon Mogard, 75, was reported missing Tuesday morning, according to a press release from Hutchinson Police Chief Tom Gifferson. Much of the search was focused on the part of the river around the Second Avenue Southeast bridge, which was closed off much of the day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday while crews worked.

Other agencies that assisted with the search have included: McLeod County Sheriff’s Office, Hutchinson Fire Department, Litchfield Rescue, Litchfield Fire Department, Renville County Sheriff’s Office, Waconia Fire Department, Watertown Fire Department, Carver County Sheriff’s Office, Winsted Fire Department, Minnesota Search and Rescue Dog Association, and North Star Search and Rescue.

No other information was available at press time Friday morning, but any updates to the story will be available online at hutchinsonleader.com.


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Golde will guide all youth on their reading journey

In 1931, librarian S. R. Ranganathan proposed five guiding rules for libraries. The third rule states that every book has a place, for it has value to someone.

“I truly believe that, ‘Every book its reader, and every reader its book,’” said Rachelle Golde, Hutchinson Public Library’s new youth services librarian, when asked about her favorite book for young readers. “This means that there is a special favorite book out there for everyone, and it’s a wonderful moment when the library gets the privilege of helping a young person find this book.”

That’s not to say she doesn’t have her own special favorite book.

“Many of my favorite titles will show up in library programming and story times,” she said.

Golde, who has worked at Hutchinson Public Library for 2 1/2 years, may already be a familiar face to some due to her role as teen services librarian. Following the departure of longtime children’s librarian Sherry Lund last month, the two positions were combined into youth services.

“Previously, I primarily worked with middle school and high school students doing programming and collection development,” Golde said. “I will still be doing programming and collection development, just on a larger scale since I will now be covering all ages of youth.”

Fall and winter programs that have been scheduled will remain the same for the most part, but Golde said library visitors should keep an eye out for new programs, events, books and displays in the future. Those can be tracked on the library’s Facebook page and at hutchinson.lib.mn.us.

“I really enjoy doing makerspace programs with kids of all ages,” Golde said. “Makerspaces allow kids to play and experiment with various arts and crafts, as well as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects. It’s a great way to incorporate hands-on learning at any age.”

She also loves reading out loud to children of all ages.

“Story time and teen book club are some of my favorite youth programs,” Golde said.

As youth services librarian, Golde will keep an eye on the full story of young readers. She said books provide valuable lessons early on, even for children too young to read or interpret illustrations.

“They are learning early literacy skills while being read to, or even just looking and experiencing the illustrations within a book,” Golde said. “Children then move from the various stages of learning how to read, followed by using reading to learn.”

One of the best parts of her role is finding books and authors youth will enjoy.

“There are popular subjects, titles and authors at every age and stage throughout childhood, including the teen years,” Golde said.


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Voters in Hutchinson, GSL and Litchfield school districts have big education decisions next month

While there are no major elections on the ballot this November, area voters will have plenty to consider as local schools have pitched a variety of bond referendum and operating levy proposals.

Voters in each district will decide the fate of these measures. Bond referendums are used specifically to finance bonds, which can be used only for building and maintenance projects needed to maintain district facilities. Operating levies are used to set a dollar amount district residents pay in taxes to the school based on enrollment, with money garnered in this way to be used for operating expenses.

A common phrase used to explain the difference is "bonds are for buildings, levies are for learning."

Both bond referendums and operating levies impact property taxes within the school district. 

Three area districts in Hutchinson, Glencoe-Silver Lake and Litchfield have proposals on the ballot. Here are explanations of each one.

HUTCHINSON

Hutchinson Public Schools is asking voters to approve a $28.8 million bond referendum. Election day is 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Hutchinson Recreation Center, 900 Harrington St. S.W., Hutchinson.

If approved, the bond referendum would increase taxes:

  • $12 per month on a home valued at $150,000,
  • $14 per month on a commercial property valued at $100,000,
  • 12 cents per month on an agricultural homestead (average value per acre of land and buildings) worth $5,000, and
  • 24 cents per month on agricultural non-homestead land (average value per acre) valued at $5,000.

Proposed by the school district is a project that would demolish the 1956 addition to Park Elementary, construct a two-story wing on the north side of West Elementary, and transfer second and third grades to West Elementary.

The School Board hopes to address the needs of the aging Park Elementary building, including its electrical and mechanical systems, and poor energy efficiency. The school was originally completed in 1938. Additional sections were added in 1956, but today the building is not as compatible with new technology as others in the district, and the layout provides fewer options for teaching approaches.

At West Elementary and the small ECFE building on its northwest side, upgrades are sought for early childhood education spaces and building infrastructure.

There is also the issue of comfort for students. The top floor of Park Elementary can reach 80 or 90 degrees early and late in the year.

Administrators believe it would be expensive to renovate Park Elementary’s 1956 addition, which can be seen today on the northwest side. The plan to construct a new wing at West Elementary and use that opportunity to improve the building for early childhood programs is believed to be more economical.

Following the proposed demolition of the 1956 addition, the installation of new glass to better regulate heat paired with the removal of window panels would make Park Elementary look much as it did when it was constructed about 80 years ago.

Visit isd423.org/bond-referendum-election-information for concepts and presentations related to the project.

Two public information sessions are scheduled. One is 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Park Elementary. The other is 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the West Elementary media center.

GLENCOE-SILVER LAKE

Glencoe-Silver Lake Schools currently has a voter approved operating levy of $176.88 per pupil. The district is asking for an increase to $460.

Money would be used to maintain programs and services and keep on track with district policy that dictates it maintains a 20 percent fund balance for financial security. The amount requested would also maximize state aid and provide an additional $113,000.

If approved, the operating levy increase would add $57 in taxes per year on a home valued at $150,000, bringing it up from $40 per year to $97 per year. The tax does not impact agricultural land.

Four public information sessions remain:

  • 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 14, at the GSL community room at Glencoe High School
  • 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Lakeside Elementary in Silver Lake
  • 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Plato Fire Hall 
  • 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the downtown Brownton Community Center

GSL previously pursued the same levy question in 2018, but voters declined with 56 percent voting no and 43 percent voting yes. At the time, Superintendant Chris Sonju said he was disappointed with the results, but acknowledged the question had been asked in 2018 to give the district an extra year to try again before the current levy expires following taxes payable in 2019.

More information, charts and summaries are available online at tinyurl.com/y2zk5pkb.

Polls are open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Glencoe City Center, 1107 11th St. E.

LITCHFIELD

Litchfield Public Schools is asking voters to approve three items:

  1. An operating levy increase of $625 per pupil, which would increase property taxes by $142 per year on a home valued at $137,000.
  2. A bond referendum of $33 million to improve its facilities, including to improve traffic flow, add secure entries, add and renovate education and common spaces, complete maintenance projects and acquire furniture and equipment. The referendum would increase taxes by $128 per year on a home valued at $137,000.
  3. If the previous two items are approved, another bond referendum is requested to garner $11.4 million. Funds would be used to help construct a new pool facility, weight room and soccer fields. The referendum would increase taxes by $67 on a home valued at $137,000.

With the levy increase, Litchfield Public Schools hopes to address its budget. Last year its budget deficit was $515,000, and a shortfall of $759,000 is projected for the current school year. Over the past several years, the school has reduced its budget by $263,664, resulting in cuts to teachers, paraprofessionals and programs. If the levy increase is approved, the district plans to stabilize its budget, maintain class sizes and protect current activities. 

If item No. 2 is approved, the district plans to remodel special education spaces and classrooms, create breakout spaces, modernize industrial, art and FACS spaces at the middle school and high school, address building security, upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning and give Lake Ripley Elementary a new roof.

To learn more, visit dragonproud.org.

Voting booths are open 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 5, at St. Phillips Church social hall, 821 E. 5th St., Litchfield.


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More senior housing planned for Hutchinson

More senior housing is the goal of a proposed expansion project at Prince of Peace Retirement Living in the 300 block of Glen Street Southwest, Hutchinson.

“We’re looking at closing and breaking ground on about Nov. 1,” said Prince of Peace executive director Merline Duering, who spoke to the Hutchinson City Council during its Sept. 24 meeting.

The project would include 11 new apartment units and 14 garages and would cost approximately $3.5 million. The facility is requesting tax-exempt financing through the city. A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22.

“Tax-exempt financing provides the lowest interest rates for this project,” said city finance director Andy Reid. “But unfortunately nonprofits like Prince of Peace can’t issue tax-exempt debt directly, so they rely on the city to be the conduit to issue that debt.”

It’s important to note that conduit debt wouldn’t obligate the city in any way, according to Reid, and Prince of Peace would be the sole entity paying the bond debt. The only impact the city would feel is the annual $10 million bank qualification, which wouldn’t be a problem, according to Reid.

“We’ll be well under that with our other bonding projects,” he said. “The only thing we’ll have to do from a city standpoint is include a footnote in our audit report each year.”

The city previously provided conduit financing to Ecumen for projects at the Oaks and Pines facility in 2006. Reid proposed a $12,000 fee to reimburse the city for project costs and staff time for the Prince of Peace project, which is the same amount that was collected during the Oaks and Pines project.

“That amount is more than adequate to cover our costs here with this deal,” he said.

A 20-unit expansion for the retirement facility was proposed back in 2014, but that project was scrapped because construction bids were more expensive than anticipated, according to Duering.

The ultimate goal, she said, is to make the expansion look like it was always a part of the building. She also said the facility has consistently outperformed the national occupancy rate, which is currently at 85 percent, by having a 97 percent occupancy rate.

“We have waiting lists that will actually — if everyone on that list moved in it would be full in nine months,” Duering said.

The housing facility’s mission is independent living, and with that comes the need for garage space.

“What happened is two generations ago when they built it there were still people coming in who had never driven in their life,” Duering said. “Now I have couples coming in with both of them having cars, where people who are driving a lot longer. So garages were definitely a consideration.”

“I have more people who are current residents than I’ve ever had before who are still waiting for garages,” she added.