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For ACGC in west central Minnesota, storm cleanup could be costly

The bleachers damaged in the storm were installed 14 years ago. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

GROVE CITY -- The early summer storm that ripped through west central Minnesota last week could be costly to the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District in terms of time and money.

The twisted wreckage of the high school's football field bleachers may not be removed until next week and it may take the rest of the summer to complete repairs of the heavily damaged track field.

"We hope to have things as good as before the storm when we see students in the fall," said Dan Tait, ACGC business manager.

Sections of the high school roof were also damaged when high winds ripped corners of the membrane from the roof, tossing concrete ballasts onto the parking lot.

"There was some pretty impressive wind action," Tait said. "The high school took a beating."

School officials and the district's insurance company are still assessing damages and getting estimates and quotes, but the repairs could be expensive.

Tait said he hopes the total financial hit to the district will be only the $10,000 deductible and that insurance will cover the rest.

The two sets of bleachers were new in 1998 and cost the district $87,000. The one set that went airborne and "now adorns our football field" is too damaged to be repaired and will have to be replaced. Tait said early estimates indicate the price hasn't gone up "that terribly much."

The other set will be repaired.

The sight of the mangled aluminum bleachers is "such a wow picture, but what's under the bleachers is as big a wow," said Superintendent Sherri Broderius.

The angle-iron from the bleachers was dragged across the field and tore holes and gouged a prime area of the track, which was rebuilt just two years ago and had a life expectancy of at least 15 years.

Repairing the track will take more than applying patches, Broderius said.

Fences will also need to be repaired, including one area that was bent at a 45-degree angle after wind picked up a wooden bench from the softball field dugout and flung it against the fence, Tait said. The roof of the baseball dugout was also torn off.

Tait said access to the track area is restricted until cleanup and repairs are finished.

Damage to the high school roof didn't cause any structural damage and didn't result in any interior rain damage.

On top of the wind damage, the electricity was out at the school for three days. A generator kept the basics running, like emergency exit lighting, alarms and the phone system, but food from the kitchen's deep freeze had to be moved to a different school building.

Tait said the community pitched in with the cleanup, including removing fallen trees from the playground at the elementary school in Atwater.

The good news is that there were no injuries from the storm or from the cleanup afterward.

"We had some damage to stuff. We'll recover from that," Tait said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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