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District sells portable classrooms

The Schuyler Community Schools Board of Education approved the sale of two portable high school classrooms during Monday's meeting.

Portables have been used at the high school since the 1970s, according to SCS Superintendent Dan Hoesing, with the current units installed in 2000.

Nu-Trend Homes Inc. is paying $44,000 for the two portable classrooms. A contract with the Omaha business calls for removal during the week of Oct. 30, but Hoesing said that schedule could be moved up to late September.

The portable classrooms won't be needed at SCHS following the completion of an approximately 8,000-square-foot expansion that will add six classrooms and a music room to the building.

The nearly $1.1 million project is expected to be completed around October.

In other business, Rural Schools Principal Gerald Reinsch said teachers in Richland have been working to promote the school.

There will be six kindergartners next year and, even though there won't be seventh- or eighth-grade classes, registration for 2017-18 is projected to increase by one student.

The board also:

• accepted the resignations of second-grade teacher Melissa Smith and food services employee Marilyn Mattfield.

• approved the 2017-18 support staff salaries, contracts and extra-duty contracts.

SCHS greenhouse open for business

Schuyler Central High School’s greenhouse is officially open for business with a variety of vegetables, herbs, succulents, houseplants and flowers for sale.

Greenhouse manager Erin Trotter and SCHS agriculture teacher Brant Peters, both Schuyler newcomers, said they’ve been figuring out how to best use the greenhouse as they go.

“We’re both starting from scratch,” said Trotter. “We didn’t know what to expect.”

The intro to agriculture and horticulture classes have been working regularly in the greenhouse, learning how to care for and cultivate a variety of plants. Trotter counted more than a dozen varieties of tomatoes and peppers and six different types of basil for sale.

Visitors may also spot some helpful critters while perusing the plants. The intro to ag class hatched praying mantises in the greenhouse.

“It’s good to have those beneficial insects in here,” said Trotter. “We’re trying to grow everything as naturally as we can.”

Graduating senior Kendra Marxsen said the big rush of customers came bright and early Saturday, when the greenhouse opened at 9 a.m.

“We had a lot of morning shoppers come in,” she said. “A lot of people come in and buy a lot of stuff.”

“We’re just about out of geraniums,” said Trotter.

Peters and SCHS student Yesenia Ochoa helped Ochoa's mother Valerie pick out a tomato plant.

"It's nice that they can tell me everything about the plant," Valerie Ochoa said.

Some of the leftover vegetables will be donated to the Schuyler Community Garden at Christ United Methodist Church.

Trotter said she will open the greenhouse during school events, though she hasn't set a schedule. The greenhouse can also be visited by appointment.

Money from plant sales goes back into the greenhouse.

Trotter said she's looking forward to trying new things to further grow the greenhouse and its reach within the community.

"The fun thing with gardening and horticulture is there's always next year," she said.

Schuyler students visited by Australian pen pals

Schuyler Middle School’s annual field day had some visitors from the land down under.

The Wallace family — Andrew and Janine and their children Jack and Sarah — flew to Denver from Tootgarook, Australia, a small town south of Melbourne. They then rented a recreational vehicle and drove to Schuyler to meet the kids’ pen pals, Colin Gibbons and Bailee Kovar.

Before she was a librarian in Schuyler, Jane Fredrickson was a director at a Girl Scout camp, where she met Janine Wallace, one of the camp’s counselors.

Two years ago Janine asked Fredrickson if she knew any children who would want to be pen pals with her kids. Fredrickson put them in touch with the Gibbons and Kovar families and the children have been writing each other since then.

The Wallace family arrived in Schuyler on May 2 and spent the following day with their Schuyler hosts at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha. Sarah and Jack participated in school activities on May 4 before the family left for the Badlands in South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park.

“The kids are getting such an experience,” said Janine. “It’s one thing to be traveling and seeing the country, but to be involved, it puts a total different perspective.”

“You stop being a tourist and become part of it,” said Andrew.

Council gives go-ahead to infrastructure study

Schuyler City Council approved an agreement last week with JEO Consulting Group for an engineering cost assessment to update the downtown infrastructure.

Schuyler Economic Development coordinator Kem Cavanah said the study will be included in an application for economic development funds to be submitted in September.

Last year, Cavanah worked to have the downtown designated as a historic district with hopes that the label would give the city an advantage when applying for development grants. Because of the designation, the State Historic Preservation Office will be working with Wahoo-based JEO to ensure infrastructure projects maintain the district’s historic features.

JEO is scheduled to present the document for review in August. After it is approved by the city council, Cavanah can include the document in his grant applications.

The council approved funding the study with local sales tax revenue set aside for downtown redevelopment.

The council also approved:

• purchasing patio furniture for Schuyler Golf Club and a bench for the Higgins Drive Trail using proceeds from the annual Labor Day weekend sand volleyball tournament.

• an interlocal agreement with OneLibrary Consortium.