Wellsboro board OKs hiring group for stadium project

WELLSBORO – In spite of objections by former school board member Al Bieber, of Charleston Township, to contracting with EHL Consulting Group Inc., of Willow Grove, to handle fundraising for a new $5 million school stadium project, the board voted unanimously to do so, with one absence, that of board member Matthew Feil.

The contract will run from March 15, 2013, to Jan.31, 2014, for $8,500 per month plus out-of-pocket expenses for meals and travel, postage, printing and any other extra costs related to the project, plus an annual $250 fee to cover prospect research.

Bieber told the board that removing the bleachers didn’t need to happen, and it didn’t need to meet Americans with Disability Acts and building codes because it had been there for years.

“It didn’t have to meet those codes until you do a certain amount of repairs,” he said, adding “if the insurance company says you can’t use them, then it is a mandate to the district that they need to be torn down.”

District Superintendent Chris Morral replied that “recognized faults” in a report by Highland Associates gave the district liability concerns.

“Once those concerns were founded, we were then liable based upon their findings,” Morral said.

Bieber said he realized since the bleachers already were removed it now is “water under the bridge,” but also that the district’s plan to get donations for the new project was “ridiculous” if they thought they were going to get it done for $52,000, which is all the money the district has left in its stadium fund.

“They (EHL) can say they will raise those funds ’til the cows come home, but at $8,500 per month plus expenses, it will take about four months to go through that money,” he said.

Bieber then asked what happens, “If they don’t reach the required amount.”

“Who funds it? Is it going to die or will taxpayers have to fund it?” he asked.

Morral said he has met with the Wellsboro Area Education Association, which has committed to the project.

“As we move forward with working with EHL we will work out refunding these expenses to the school district,” Morral said.

“We are by no means are locked in, we can re-evaluate it at any time and it is in our best interests to look at it in four months,” he added.

In other matters, Business Manager Marcia Newcomb said the district is looking at a 12-percent increase in health care costs next year, instead of the 10 percent it had expected.

“We will continue to work on the budget, and with our food service management contract with PDE,” she said.