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by Karin L. Nauber

karin@inhnews.com

Editor's Note: The Long Prairie Hockey Association will continue to be able to use the Expo building at the Todd County Fairgrounds after today’s vote by the Todd County Board of Commissioners. The vote was 3-2 with Commissioners David Kircher, Gary Kneisl and Rod Erickson voting in favor of letting them continue to use the building and Commissioners Barb Becker and Randy Neumann voting against it. Neumann had proposed putting the choice on the 2020 ballot and letting all taxpayers vote on it. This proposal failed. After a little over one hour of discussion and short pleas from hockey parents and kids, the room erupted in cheers when the commissioners made their decision.

“How much are you willing to pay in rent?” was the question asked by Todd County Board of Commissioners Chair Gary Kneisl after the Long Prairie Hockey Association President David Gould said he would like to see the Expo building located at the Todd County Fairgrounds repaired so the association could continue to use it for hockey.

The Expo building was erected in 1978-79 and the hockey association has been using it for hockey for at least the past 30 years.

The discussion took place during a work session held on January 2.

Gould shared the association’s numbers with the board which shows there are six schools with students involved in their hockey programs including: Melrose, Sauk Centre, Long Prairie, Browerville, Wadena and Osakis for a total of 117 athletes.

The association has also held open skates where anyone can come and skate which has served 555 people.

Their game attendances totaled 2175 and their practice attendances totaled 2736 for a total number of visitors to the building  of 5541 (this includes 75 other visitors for various reasons).

The association used the ice in the building for 220 hours from September until December of 2018. The time was divided by 55 hours for games and 165 hours for practices.

It was brought up that the Sauk Centre Association charges $39,600 for their ice time, but that the city of Sauk Centre does all of the work and maintenance except for concessions.

This work includes: rink cleaning, Zamboni operator, Zamboni purchase and maintenance, refrigeration equipment and maintenance, rink set-up and take down, building maintenance, sound system, heaters and maintenance, building insurance, equipment insurance, snow removal, utilities (electric and garbage), ice maintenance, board maintenance, skate rental, skate sharpening, bathroom cleaning and supplies, water heaters,  and CO2/air quality monitoring.

The Long Prairie Hockey Association does most of the work for themselves through volunteers. For 2018 they paid $5260 for several of the services that they do.

While the Expo building and some of the damage done to it has been discussed in the past, this recent surge came about in the spring when a serious mold issue needed to be taken care of so that the building could be used for the Todd County Fair.

There were some potential ideas for the remediation of the mold problem brought before the board. 

At their July 17 meeting to address the existing mold issue in the lean-to area which houses the locker rooms and bathrooms, the board looked at hiring Widseth, Smith and Nolting to prepare a Request for Proposal. The cost for WSN to prepare the RFP would have been $11,560 for phase 1 and $14,190 which would be for phase 1 and 2. 

The idea was to take care of the mold before hockey season began on or around October 1.

County Engineer Loren Fellbaum said that the county had received an initial estimate of $45,000 for the mold remediation, but felt that this was a low figure because of the mold and rotting issues along with having to work around the existing plumbing and wiring.

At that time, Commissioner David Kircher said that he wasn’t willing to stick money into getting the building ready for hockey when it wasn’t built for that.

Kircher added that he would like to see grant options for building a new hockey arena explored.

Commissioner Barb Becker said that she was in favor of the building being a multi-use one, but that if they let hockey use it, the roof would have to be different and that would cost a lot more money. . . .

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