Vandalism increasing at Fieldhouse

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February 16, 2010 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — Closing Humboldt’s Community Fieldhouse on weekends should be a last resort, the USD 258 Board of Education agreed Monday night, but repeated problems with vandalism and lack of supervision by the Humboldt Recreation Commission have the board considering just that.
The district, which owns the facility, supervises its use on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
On Saturday and Sunday, that responsibility shifts to the Humboldt Recreation Commission.
According to a contract between the bodies, the Rec Commission must supervise use of the high school weight room from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays and the walking track from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.
“We’ve gotten a lot of calls that those hours are not being kept,” said Superintendent of Schools Bob Heigele.
Worse, the Fieldhouse is being vandalized on the Rec Commission’s guard.
This past weekend, said Craig Smith, assistant high school principal, garbage was strewn about the field house floor, showers were left on and shower curtains torn down in locker rooms.
Cleanup required five hours and numerous individuals, Smith said.
It’s not the first time the field house has been damaged, Heigele noted. “At this point, we need to take some action.”
The problem, board members said, is lack of appropriate supervision.
During Recreation Commission functions, such as basketball and biddyball, locker rooms and the field house as a whole should be supervised. Doors should be checked to ensure it is secure afterward.
“It’s just not being supervised at all,” said board member Steve Sellman. “During games, no one is watching.”
This weekend, Heigele noted, “someone stuffed towels in the door” to keep it open.
As a result, “There was no way we could have had gym class in there the first two hours” of the school day, Smith said. “It was filthy.”
Heigele suggested that “each time (the Rec Commission) use(s) it, they fill out a facility use form and leave a $250 to $1,000 deposit. If they don’t do their part, they lose that.”
Board member Don Hauser also suggested charging the Rec Commission for the hours and supplies needed to restore the facility after this weekend’s vandalism. The board agreed.
“But would they pay it?” Curt Mueller queried.
The Rec Commission only Friday paid a liability insurance premium due months ago, Heigele noted.
“I wouldn’t just give them a bill, I’d give them a deadline,” he said.

THE BOARD is receiving the bulk of the calls about misuse of the facility, Heigele said. The issue reflects negatively upon Humboldt schools, Smith added. “Whether it’s true or not, the Rec (Commission) and the school are looked at as the same thing,” he said.
Concerns run deeper than just that.
At some point, Heigele said, trophy cases may be smashed. Someone may get injured.
Dan Weilert observed the discrepancy between how the two entities care for facilities. The district helps maintain Recreation Commission facilities, he noted, caring properly for ball fields.
It even cleans restrooms, Heigele added, “because we want things to be good for our kids and our patrons.”
“What is the issue with the Rec Commission?” Weilert asked. “Why can’t they provide supervision?”
Heigele concurred. “This is the first time since we’ve opened the walking trail that we’ve had this many complaints. They’ve got to be supervising those kids.”
“We want to stress that through all of this, we want the facilities to be used by the public,” Mueller added, “but it has to be taken care of.”
The board’s leadership will invite the Recreation Commission to discuss the issue next Thursday.
Humboldt Mayor Bob Sharp, who has also taken calls about the field house, will also be invited. The conversation will be closed to the public.
Rec Commission members are selected by the commission itself, but must be approved by the school board. Jason Bauer, Rec director, was appointed by the commission. His is a part-time paid position, funded by a school mill levy.

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