Realtor proposes selling Deer Creek school for $150K

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The Wadena-Deer Creek school board recognized the Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Wadena Development Authority and WDC for a Local Government Innovation Award the Community House won in December. This was the first time the school entered in the competition. From left to right: Kent Schmidt, Dan Lawson, Peter Hayes, superintendent Lee Westrum, WHRA executive director Maria Marthaler, Ryan Damlo, Melissa Seelhammer, Vince Hinojos and Brian Jacobson. Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal

With future plans for Wadena-Deer Creek schools always on their minds, the school board set several projects into motion and recognized the progress of other projects on Jan. 21.

The most recent project is the proposed listing of the Deer Creek school. Superintendent Lee Westrum initially proposed the idea at the November meeting and received one proposal from a local realtor after contacting three area realtors. With approval from the school board, the Gores Company will list, market and work through the sale of the school with a six month agreement and a 6% commission. The proposal document also suggests $150,000 as the asking price for the school due to asbestos, an underground fuel tank, a poor roof on the old building, tax statements, location of the property, city size and limitations of rural Minnesota, according to Westrum and realtor Dominique Browne.

Dan Lawson questioned if WDC could still use the building in some way, like when area schools had previously partnered together to have the Leaf River Co-Op. While the idea of a vocational school has come up, Westrum believes the cost to repair the school would be high and building onto WDC would be more convenient if that decision is made in the future. The goal is for the Deer Creek school building to still have a positive impact in the community.

“Since we are based in Wadena and have ties to Deer Creek, we want to see our area improve and progress for the betterment of our communities and citizens,” Browne said in the proposal document.

Westrum also hopes to see the interested buyer pitch their proposal to the public to share how they plan to use the building.


In recognition of a current building project, the school board congratulated the Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Wadena Development Authority and WDC for receiving a Local Government Innovation Award for the Community House. The Community House was one of five schools awarded, according to board member and WHRA committee member Ryan Damlo. WHRA executive director Maria Marthaler also shared the progress of the house, including how it has been moved to the property, has plumbing and countertops almost completed and flooring and a for sale sign coming soon. The project will be finished in the spring.

“It’s moving along very fast. It’s been great partnering with the WDA, with the school. Thank you for the opportunity to work on this because I think pulling the community together, the contractors are all local contractors, everybody’s excited,” Marthaler said to the board.

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Three local organizations won an innovation award for their collaboration on the Community House, with contractors and students taking the lead on the project. The award was mailed to WDC after the ceremony on Dec. 12. Rebecca Mitchell/Pioneer Journal

The board also completed organizational tasks, including naming Lawson as chairperson, Peter Hayes as vice-chairperson, Vince Hinojos as clerk and Melissa Seelhammer as treasurer. The meeting dates for 2020 were set, with an addition of a work session on March 30 for looking at the big picture of where the school is headed. A new committee where students and their input about school-related issues and topics was also formed.

In other actions, the board approved:

  • The hiring of Amanda Weller (M-State Food Service) and lane changes for Dawn Hamelau, Kristi Soule and Stephanie Pulver.

  • The paying of the district’s bills totaling $440,677.48 and bond construction bills of $111,066.48. Donations to the district were also received totaling $16,427.38 and donations to student activities totalled $1,850.

  • The purchase of a 14k Midsota Nova snow trailer for $6,900 from Cutting Edge of Perham. They also considered proposed costs of $7,795 to $7,995 from Sundby’s in Verndale and Sparks in Battle Lake.

  • The hopeful purchase of three ActivPanel Titanium monitors with mobile stands from Connecting Point for the elementary school. District members learned about the monitors at a Sourcewell conference, where they were on sale for a total cost of $11,949.73. While the sale ended on Dec. 31, 2019, the school board is hoping to pay this price since they were not able to meet before then. The money will come from the district’s capital reserves. The monitors would replace projectors that the district has had for over 10 years. The monitors would be used in the ECFE classrooms in the evening as well as piloted by other teachers.

  • A collective bargaining agreement with the Administrative Assistant-Bookkeeper-Custodian Union for July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021 as a way to improve insurance contributions to retain and hire administrative assistants, bookkeepers and custodians.

  • The seniority lists of teachers, administrative assistants, bookkeepers, custodians, school cooks, administrators, educational assistants and school bus drivers.

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