Rumors of what Tekamah-Herman Schools might do with a block of Main Street frontage property it doesn’t yet own drew more than three dozen people to the district’s Board of Education meeting April 9.
“We’re not here to start a controversy, we just want information,” former school board member Gordy Bryant told the board. “People are asking me all the time about what’s going on and I encourage them to come to you.”
Last December, the board voted unanimously to contribute up to $100,000 to a proposal to purchase all the property it doesn’t already own on the west side of Main Street in the block south of the school building. The center of that block contains the district’s Trades and Industries building and the former police station the district recently purchased from the city. Other properties on the block include the former Medicine Chest building, the original home of Burt County Museum, the former American Legion hall and the current vets hall which hosts the Lewis and Clark mural.
The school will partner with Tekamah Community Foundation to buy the property with the stipulation that the existing buildings be demolished within two years of the first purchase and the school must properly maintain the site.
Board members said title searches are still being done on the properties and no purchase agreements have been executed.
Former board member Bret Brodersen he’s hearing concerns that the site would be used for a new sports complex.
“Do we need a practice gym? Yes we do,” Brodersen said, “but we have education needs to take care of.”
Brodersen suggested a better plan might be to purchase the recently vacated Tekamah Motors property.
Board member Chris Booth said the two men made “valid points.”
He said the board’s building committee has explored a number of options.
“Right now, nothing is final,” he said. “We are brainstorming a lot and for now we want to focus on the block to the south.”
Booth said the board started the process by surveying district staff, then started setting priorities.
“We’ve addressed the immediate needs and now we’re working on the middles,” he said. “The T&I building is among them.”
Beyond that, he said, the board has no plans or goals for development of the property.
Board members said the district’s biggest issue is a lack of space. Buying the property gives the board more options to ease the space crunch, but, again, no definitive plans have been made.
Board member Trent Leichleiter said the board needs direction and wants the community’s involvement.
Priorities were expected to come more into focus following a board retreat held April 12. Booth said the idea behind the retreat is to not only develop priorities, but also determine the best ways to interact with patrons.