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DeAngelo: ‘We need all the help we can get’

SPRING VALLEY – About 30 people attended Thursday’s meeting of the committee for a new Hall High School facility.

Superintendent Mike Struna said this would be the last meeting he would run. The next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the community room at Spring Valley City Hall, will be be conducted by the steering committee co-chairmen, Hildi Grivetti and Mike DeAngelo.

Struna began by reviewing the proposed $32 million facility, which had been presented at previous community input meetings. Struna said frequent questions were about the need for two gyms; a 500-seat theater/auditorium; and the current auto mechanics garage. Struna said the school board put a lot of thought and discussion into the proposed plan and felt it would best meet the needs of students.

Many people have stepped forward to be on committees, but the only chairmen determined were Rich Vanaman as co-chairman of the Get Out The Vote Committee, and Kathy Pullam as co-chairman of the Speakers Bureau committee. At Thursday’s meeting, no one volunteered to help co-chair either of those committees, or the Finance or Communications/Public Relations Committee.

The group discussed many issues that will need to be covered before the April election.

Grivetti asked everyone to think about community leaders in each community. They don’t need to work for the referendum, but they would be asked to write letters of support for the project.

“It’s important to have them support us,” she said.

Struna asked what everyone had been hearing in public about the project.

Vanaman said everyone he had spoken with was very positive, and felt there wasn’t any real choice.

“They don’t want to throw good money after bad,” he said.

If the referendum doesn’t pass, the board will be required to perform about $18 million in necessary updates to the building’s structure to bring it up to code, including the installation of five elevators to make it handicapped-accessible.

Pullam said she also was hearing a positive response.

“Why would we put $18 million into an old building if we could have a new school for less than twice as much?” she said.

Struna said spending the $18 million would also require a voter referendum, as the board can only borrow up to $8.6 million without voter approval. Vanaman asked what would happen if the voters turned down that referendum as well.

“We’d borrow $7 or $8 million and do what we can,” Struna said.

Some members of the audience were concerned that elderly voters might be a problem, but Gene Merkel said he had spoken with six “old people” who had graduated many years ago.

“They said, ‘That building was old when I was there,’” he said.

Dave Argubright also didn’t think elderly voters would be a problem.

“Older people have lived here all their lives, and they tend to have a lot of pride,” he said.

DeAngelo urged everyone to come to next week’s meeting.

“We’re going to need all the help we can get,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

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