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Lidgerwood gym project to move forward

The Lidgerwood (N.D.) School Board will move forward this week with plans to demolish its old gymnasium to make room for a new one, as long as a community group can raise enough money for construction.

The Lidgerwood (N.D.) School Board will move forward this week with plans to demolish its old gymnasium to make room for a new one, as long as a community group can raise enough money for construction.

But a group that wants to save the old gym said it may sue the School District unless the demolition plans are first approved by a public vote.

The group says when voters approved a $650,000 bond issue for locker rooms last year, they did so with the understanding the old gym would remain.

"At this stage in the game, it looks like a judge will have to make them stick with the original plan," said Alfred Neiber. "Let the whole district decide whether the gym stays or goes."

Nearly everyone in Lidgerwood agrees the district should build a new gym. At issue is whether it should replace the old gym or be a new addition to the school.

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A group that wants to demolish the old gym says the old gym would cost too much to maintain. The "save the gym" committee says the school can use the extra space.

The debate has drawn crowds of 100 or more to recent School Board meetings.

The School District's attorney said the board can move forward with plans to demolish the gym, said board president Donald Dathe. The board also requested an opinion from the state Department of Public Instruction.

Regardless, the project is contingent upon private funding and a lease agreement, said Superintendent Tony Grubb.

Project bids opened after Thursday will give the group raising private funds for the project a better idea of how much money they still need to secure.

Right now the group is about $34,000 short of its goal of $800,000 in signed pledges.

"We're really close and confident we'll get it," said Joel Kaczynski, a spokesman for the gym committee.

A lease agreement then would be made between the community group that builds the gym and the school.

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If all goes as expected, construction could begin as early as the end of the month, Kaczynski said.

Lidgerwood School District has about 200 students in kindergarten through grade 12.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534

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