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Thomson Township Board approves $10,000 donation to remodel basketball court

A presentation from Matt Berger, an Esko teacher, to the Thomson Township Board of Supervisors resulted in the township making a motion to donate to the project, which would remodel the outdoor basketball court at the school district.

FILE:ThomsonTownHall
The Thomson Township Hall Izabel Johnson / 2021 File / Pine Journal
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ESKO — The Thomson Township Board of Supervisors agreed that a proposal to rennovate the outdoor basketball court at the Esko School District would be a good way to spend some of the township's recreation funds.

The board voted in favor of a motion to donate $10,000 of the project, during its board meeting Thursday, June 16.

Matt Berger, an Esko teacher and coach, presented the proposal to the board and said the idea had been in the works for a couple of years came about through Michelle Carlson the director of Esko Community Education.

"For playground use, having this is huge," he said as the courts are right next to the swing sets. "Once it is down I guarantee it will be used very heavily."

The total cost of the project is going to be $90,000 according to Berger, but he has raised roughly $25,000 so far from other entities.

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Berger presentation
Matt Berger, an Esko teacher, gave a presentation to the Thomson Township Board of Supervisors about remodeling the outdoor basketball courts at the Esko School District. Thursday, June 16.
Dylan Sherman / Cloquet Pine Journal

The proposal has the three asphalt basketball courts in the space, currently reworked to two courts and one mixed-use court with pickleball and foursquare, all of them having a new sport court surface.

Berger said the current asphalt gives the students using it a lot more cuts and bruises than the sport court would. The project includes refinishing the asphalt.

Berger has yet to take the idea to the school board, as he has been looking for funding and wanted to see if commitment and interest was there for the project from the township board.

He added that he does not intend to ask the school board for a specific amount of funding, but will continue to look for grant opportunities or even private funding options to get the project completed.

"Once we have all these dollars filled in, we will go to the school board and see what they can do," he said.

Township supervisors were all in favor of the project and thought it would be a good improvement for the community.

Supervisor Tony Compo voiced his support for the plan and the project.

"I think it will be a very good project," he said. "It is definitely something that fits in our scope of interest."

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Supervisor Terry Hill wanted to confirm that the court would have public access, which it will, for anyone in the community.

"We know it will be used," he said.

Hill also wanted to make sure there weren't any requirements the board needed to meet to donate money project.

Dave Pritchett, the township's legal counsel, said as long as the project is recognized and operating in the township there is no trouble from a legal standpoint.

Town Clerk Rhonda Peleski said the township's recreation fund sits at $31,000, with $10-12,000 going toward community sports programs, so the township would still have $10,000 left over for trail and other maintenance projects.

In other township business, the board was notified that members of the road crew had requested to join a local union.

Pritchett explained that this means the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation services will send out mailers to all members for an election to see if they will join the union.

The members would join the union if the results had a majority in favor of doing so, according to Pritchett.

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The board ended its meeting with a closed session to learn more about what it would mean if they joined a union and how that would affect the existing contracts.

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Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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