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Butler shares turbine research

By Staff | Aug 13, 2008

If Karen Butler has her way, the Estherville skyline will feature another wind turbine.

And this one will be owned by the Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District.

In her report to the board of education Monday, Butler shared her goal-a wind turbine for the district. “We need this.”

Her report noted, “Because we are building these new buildings for our young students with the use of GEO thermal energy source as well as the latest technology we can afford, I felt it only right we find the use of our own wind turbine as well.”

Butler stated her purpose in conducting this research. “We need to get it up without spending our own money. This is my dream.”

The school board director has been in contact with Al Zeitz, wind energy turbine and technology instructor at Iowa Lakes Community College. She and Kevin Richardson, ELC technology director, visited with Zeitz. “He is more than willing to work with us,” she said.

With information on the kilowatts and return payback on the various models, Butler said it seems the 1.65 megawatt is the right size. She and Richardson also learned this model has a seven-10 year payback time.

“It seems to us that the 1.65 MW was the turbine to get. It seems more cost effective. Within this $2.5 million, we are talking about the cost of installation, the ground preparation, going down 40 feet and the tying into the grid.”

Another important fact to consider was Zeitz encouraged the notion of leasing the land vs. buying.

Zeitz told Butler to research on the website: WINDUSTRY.COM.

“I have and they are a wealth of information. They will help us from the very start to the first revolution of the blade, as Al said.”

She emphatically said her mission is to work on this wind turbine project and get it in place with no money out of the school’s budget.

“It can be done with grants, donations and lovely people who want to help. I do not want to have to spend any of the school’s money to make this project happen.”

Butler will be contacting Shell Oil and BP Oil for possible financial assistance, noting both of these corporations believe in bettering schools and embrace ‘forward thinking’ philosophies.

“You don’t know until you ask, but you have to go after it until you find it. I will hunt for the money and I know the right people will take care of us.”

Also addressing the board was Bob Grems, Comprehensive Wellness Plan coordinator/RWC director, who shared a detailed sample comprehensive wellness plan.

Grems suggested a plan could be tailored for the school district once the needs and interests of the employees were obtained.

With healthy employees, he said premiums would go down as would the number of claims.

Director Don Schiltz questioned why the district has to formulate a wellness plan. “We’re talking about professional people who should know what it takes to be healthy.”

Grems’ report, as of July 1, 2008, said the district employs 262, of which 245 are full-time.

Insurance costs to the district general fund was approximately 1.32 million for FY 2007 for 183 employees with district coverage. This averaged out to $7,213.12 per ELC policy.

In FY 2008, the district yearly insurance claims amounted to an estimated $1,421,172 for 10,049 filed claims. The number of pharmacy claims added up to 4,274 followed by physician services claims at 2,906.

A total of $2,041,744 was billed for various services of which the school’s insurance carrier, Dakota Care, paid $1,380,010.

Information was also shared about the annual sick leave used by teachers. In FY2008, a combined total of absences added up to 1,334 days with sick days grabbing the majority with 493. Family sick days tallied to 275 and personal days used numbered 189.

A total of 171 professional days were used, 154 unpaid days were also marked. Other absences included 41 for bereavement and 11 for emergency situations.

The district has offered various wellness activities and provided wellness information to employees for improved overall health and well-being of staff. This has a direct effect on employees, student achievement and financial health of the school, according to information supplied by Grems.

In other matters, the board approved:

n 28 E Agreements with Iowa Lakes Community College.

n The increase in breakfast prices.

n Monday, Sept. 15 at 5:10 p.m. as the public hearing date for the sale of properties.

n Approved the annual agreements with the City of Estherville Parks & Recreation Department.

n Various board appointments to committees.