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Verndale board approves Techam for head wrestling post

The District 818 school board approved the hiring of Steve Techam as interim head wrestling coach at their Monday night meeting.

Techam takes over the head reins from Mike Barthel who turned in his resignation as head coach earlier this fall. Barthel is on the faculty of the Bertha-Hewitt school district.

“I think he just thought it was time to do that,” Verndale Superintendent Paul Brownlow said.

Techam coached wrestling for 34 years. He has continued to serve the Verndale school district as a substitute teacher and a bus driver and has served as an assistant and volunteer coach in the BHV wrestling program.

The Raiders open their 2013-2014 wrestling season Nov. 30 at the annual Wadena-Deer Creek Invitational. Last year’s BHV team reached the second round of the Section 6A team tournament and saw three wrestlers qualify for state.

School Board Member Bill Blaha asked Business Manager Brian Jacobson to provide the board with preliminary financial information for budgeting purposes by the board’s Dec. 2 meeting. The board is currently in contract negotiations with the faculty. One of the new factors in negotiations is the district’s obligation under the Affordable Health Care Act, to provide a health insurance plan to teachers by September, 2014. The district’s policy has been to pay faculty members $6,200 a year from a flexible spending account and let them provide their own health insurance.

In giving the board an update on the school’s construction project, Brownlow pointed out that there will be a two-week delay on the pre-fabricated panels that will enclose the new addition because of a supply problem. The panels are expected to arrive in Verndale the third week of December. Brownlow added that construction of the addition is expected to be completed two weeks before the start of the 2014-2015 school year next September.

In other business, the board approved the hiring of Amy Thompson as a part-time secretary and accounts payable specialist and approved a contract Jerry Kern, the owner and operator of Git-R-Dug, to provide snow removal on campus during the coming winter. Kern, who operates his business out of Mahnomen, currently provides snow removal service to the City of Verndale. His bid came in $6 per hour lower than last year’s quote.