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Surplus building offered to county; not accepted yet

Jan 15, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The Fremont County School District 25 Board of Education has offered a surplus maintenance trailer to the Fremont County Commission.

The gesture does not imply that commissioners are interested in taking the structure, however.

County officials expressed interest in the trailer last month, when they discussed its potential use as a day reporting center for the county's new juvenile detention alternatives initiative. But last week they said they weren't sure they could afford the $37,000 that county staff estimated it would cost to move the building and install it elsewhere.

Commissioner Keja Whiteman approached the school board Jan. 8 to discuss the situation.

"The commissioners were absolutely interested, (but) we have no money budgeted for this," she said. "When we got that ($37,000) figure everybody sat back and was rethinking it. ... Maybe does the district want to help us move it?"

District 25 Superintendent Terry Snyder pointed out that the trailer was being offered for free, and he said the district already has spent time and money disconnecting the structure from school property.

"The way it was explained to me there was no axle, wheels, tongue, or any parts to move it," Whiteman said. "But you'd expect us to pay all the moving costs?"

Snyder confirmed she was correct about the condition of the trailer, but he said other entities, like the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Educational Services, have expressed interest in taking the structure under the district's conditions.

"I wish I had a different answer," he said. "It's not our intent to incur any costs as part of the move and set up. ... I wouldn't recommend that to the board."

Whiteman said she would take the information back to the commission for further discussion. School board members requested that the county accept or decline the trailer by their meeting Jan. 22.

Juvenile initiative

Fremont County attorney Brian Varn said he would encourage the commission to pay for transport of the trailer. He spoke to board members Jan. 8 about the county's plans for the structure, which would be used to help educate youth offenders who are not able to attend regular classes. For now, Varn said, the juvenile detention alternatives initiative has been using space in local group home facilities for lessons.

"That's why we're here to get your trailer if we can," Varn said. "We need the space to have kids. We need an office space for the administrator of that program and the teacher."

As part of the county initiative, District 25 offered a contract to teacher Sylvia Rotroff who will work at the day reporting center, which Varn guessed would be located near the Fremont County Fairgrounds. He said he has "feelers out" for more trailers that could be stationed elsewhere in the county.

"I could put easily three trailers to work right now and just deal with 14- to 17-year-olds, which is really all we're targeting right now," Varn said. "We're keeping a focus on crime and public safety."

Eventually, he said, the initiative could be expanded to cover more minor offenses, or to motivate teens who haven't been arrested but who have been expelled from school and are in danger of falling into a life of crime.

"They're out there with nothing to do," Varn said. "It's just a crime waiting to happen. (But) the more education and graduations they get, the less likely they are to be involved in crime."

The initiative provides opportunities for students to return to school, Varn added. He called the program "the first consolidated effort" bringing together the Department of Family Services, the Fremont County Attorney's Office and area school districts to address the needs of county children, and he thanked board members for their involvement.