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Kelliher School Receives USDA Rural Development Grant

USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer spoke to the assembly in Kelliher.

The Kelliher School District accepted an $82,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development during a ceremony in Kelliher Nov. 17. The grant was awarded to the district to install a community library and to make energy-efficiency improvements to the Old School Center which the district owns.

"We have a lot to celebrate, "said Kelliher School Superintendent Tim Lutz about the grant. "Our community is a great supporter of education and this is one way we can return the show of support to our community.

The Old School Center is the former school building that was vacated after the district moved into a new building in 1998. The district renovated the older building and converted it into a community center. The building currently houses a health clinic, a workout facility and a satellite office of the Beltrami County Sheriff's Department.

"Adding a community library to this building will provide a wonderful benefit to our community. As a school administrator, I believe the school and the community must work together to maintain a strong community that offers an incentive to our young people to return to raise a family some day," said Lutz in his address during the ceremony.

Members of the community were invited to attend the ceremony and students in grades 10-12 also participated in the program. In addition to Lutz, Mayor Darin Latterell addressed the audience stating that anytime collaboration exists between the school and the city, great outcomes occur.

In addition to local speakers, USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer spoke to the assembly adding that, "This grant and the community library that will come from it, is a step in the right director for the city of Kelliher."

Two Kelliher School students also addressed the audience. Senior Megan Poxleitner spoke on the merits and benefits of a community library.

"A community library will open the world to residents of Kelliher," she stated.

Senior Kristi Geerdes introduced Landkamer.

The USDA grant is a cost-sharing measure. The school district is responsible for an additional $22,500, but, according to Lutz, "If it saves us $40,000 a year in energy-related costs, our one-time expenditure to upgrade the building will be worth it."

Lutz said he hopes other entities will move into the building some day. "It would be great to have a business lease some space in the building." He also hopes to see a community food shelf in the building some day. Another option would be some type of thrift and gift store that could be operated by business and accounting students in the district.

In his speech, Lutz said he hopes students will move back to Kelliher after they graduate from college or tech school or other ventures. When asked to give a show of hands to demonstrate how many students would like to return some day, a large number of students expressed interest.

"We hope we will have a lot to offer you as you consider moving back here to raise a family some day", Lutz added in closing.