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Board commits to $64m school

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT — The School Board committed itself Tuesday to building a 465,000-square-foot, 2,200-student high school and promised to borrow no more than $64 million to do it.
   During a three-hour meeting and public hearing in the high school auditorium, the board adopted resolutions by a 4-1 vote formally announcing its intention to proceed with the project, which calls for the school to be built on 118 acres on 125th Avenue.
   “This design is very well thought out and very complete,” board member Michael McCormick said. “Let’s get it done.”
   Board member Bart Aiello cast the lone dissenting votes.
   He said he was concerned about off-site costs like sewer lines and road work, and that community growth projections of 3 percent per year were too high.
   He also believes too high a proportion of the proposed building is dedicated to athletics and physical education, and that the board should develop a contingency plan for cutting the extent of the project if costs prove to go over the $64 million mark.
   “You should go out and chew these facts over for yourselves,” Aiello told audience members. “See if this project is something you can live with.”
   Board member Jackie Webster said the project was a conservative one and the community was getting “the most for your money.
   “I am very comfortable with the 465,000 square feet,” she said.
   Besides the $64 million limit for a bond sale, the resolutions set a 26-year term for repayment of the bonds and estimated the school corporation would pay an interest rate of 6 percent.
   Tuesday’s votes came after presentations by architects and financial consultants and a public hearing during which proponents and opponents of the project spoke.
   Architect Ken Grabow of ATS&R presented the school design unveiled last week, and construction manager Larry Koenes of Skillman Corp. presented a cost estimate of about $57 million, excluding off-site costs.
   Koenes also said the project completion date would be no later than July 2003.


Financial consultant Tim Joyce of Municipal Consultants said between borrowed money and other funds already set aside for the project, the school corporation has $68 million to spend. He said the tax impact of the project on an average valued residence would be $184.37 in the year 2000, the peak year of the bond financing.During the public hearing, 22 residents spoke. Most supported the project, many citing educational benefits from a new school, others the need to do it now rather than pay a higher cost later.
  “The parents of our grandparents first built the original Crown Point High School, and many generations of children have benefited from their generosity. Now, it is up to the current parents and grandparents to do the same,” said Larry Huelat.
   Mayor James Metros said putting the project off will only mean paying more in the future.
   The question isn’t how much building a new high school will cost, he said, but “what is the price of not building a new high school?”
   Most opponents questioned the cost.
   “This is definitely not affordable to the single-income families and to the fixed-income senior population,” James Forsythe said.
   Former board member Michel Nikolich said the board was dramatically understating the cost of the project.
   Project opponents will now have one last chance to block the new school by instigating a petition drive that, if successful, would delay the project one year.
   Opponents have 30 days from Tuesday to register their support for a remonstrance petition drive. If 250 property owners call for the petition drive, a 60-day contest will start during which supporters and opponents of the project collect signatures from property owners.
   If supporters get the most signatures, the project moves ahead; if opponents do, the project is delayed one year, at which time the process would be repeated if the School Board still supported construction of a new high school.
Remembering fallen heroes

By Kathie Godfrey
Star Correspondent

LOWELL — Young and old gathered together on Monday to remember friends, relatives and neighbors who died in wars in Memorial Day Services held in Lowell and Crown Point.
   In Crown Point, the ceremony started with a parade, followed over to Maplewood Cemetery and ended at the triangle on North Main Street, where flowers were placed at the foot of the monument there.
   Guest speaker at the cemetery was Richard Quattrin, past commander of the Department of Indiana’s American Legion.
   In Lowell, people gathered to honor the dead at the Tri-Creek War Memorial adjacent to Lowell Memorial Cemetery.    
   American Legion Vice Commander David Rowley led the program, which included a gun salute by members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6841and American Legion Post 101. The ceremony also included prayers, a presentation of memorial wreaths and a single solemn bugle playing taps while spectators recalled their own memories of war.
   “I came here to remember Mickey Agnew, a family friend who spent three months in a prisoner of war camp after he was captured at the Battle of the Bulge,” said Lowell resident Nell Fabish. “He was a wonderful person.”
   Councilwoman Karen Brooker, R-2nd, attended the program with her husband Jim, a Vietnam veteran. Brooker said she came to remember high school classmates who served in Vietnam.
   “Many of them didn’t come back or came back terribly disabled,” she said.
   Brooker said her uncles, who had served in the South Pacific during World War II, had returned home unharmed but were unable to speak of their wartime experiences.
   “Jim won’t talk about the war either,” she said, gesturing toward her husband.
   World War II veteran Richard Schmal said he had spent three years in the Pacific, two years in Hawaii and one year on a tiny desert island on the equator — just 500 yards wide — engaging the Japanese.
    “I saw many service people from Lowell in Hawaii,” he said.
   Schmal said 13 million American men and women were under arms during the height of that war.
   “To do that every community had to contribute quite a few young people,” he said.
   Town Council President Ray Raszewski, D-3rd, said his father, Raymond Sr., had returned to Glassport, Penn. as a decorated hero after the war. After his plane landed behind enemy lines, Raszewski’s father persuaded 232 Germans to surrender to the Allies and release their French prisoners.
   Raszewski, who was one of many spectators to recall the theme of the much-lauded film “Saving Private Ryan,” said his grandmother was a seven-star mother who had seven sons in the service at one time.
   “My middle name, Valentine, was given to me in honor of Valentine Raszewski, my uncle, who was killed during World War II,” he said.


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