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Four months after rejecting proposal, school board approves plan to build bridge at Natrona County HS
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Four months after rejecting proposal, school board approves plan to build bridge at Natrona County HS

NCHS Construction

Construction crews work on one of the last phases of a renovation at Natrona County High School in October 2016. The Natrona County School Board has approved a plan to build a bridge from the school to its athletics facility.

The Natrona County School District will use state funds to build a bridge connecting Natrona County High to its athletic facility, a proposal approved four months after the school board rejected a similar effort.

The September proposal would have cost the district $770,000 and would have paired that construction with NC’s pool, which was approved by the board. But the trustees narrowly rejected the bridge projects. Opponents, including the board’s chairwoman, said then they didn’t feel the project — which would’ve been funded by security money — was at the top of the district’s safety priorities and that the bridge seemed more of a convenience than a legitimate security desire.

At the time, trustee Kevin Christopherson said future boards would look back on these trustees as a “bunch of idiots,” adding that not approving the project was a “big mistake.”

The board’s infrastructure committee, which had previously pushed the project, went back to it earlier this month. This time, the supporters on the board said the district could use money left over from NC’s renovation — state dollars already earmarked — to fund the project. The exact timeline of the project would look different because using state funding requires a different process than using local money.

Months after voting down effort, school board to again study building bridge at NCHS

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That proposal found newly fertile ground among the broader board Monday night. With trustee Kianna Smith voting no and Angela Coleman abstaining, the board overwhelmingly gave the go-ahead for the bridge project. In a comment before the vote, Smith said she wasn’t convinced the project was worth the money and urged the board members who opposed it in September to do so again.

Christopherson explained to the board that the money to build the project sitting in an account and that the bridge was initially conceived as part of NC’s overall renovation. He said the state had approved funding for the project.

School board approves pool for Natrona County High, narrowly kills effort to build bridge

Coleman asked why the state funding hadn’t been part of the first plan. Christopherson said the district had wanted to use its own funding and that it would’ve been faster than using state money. But after the board shot down the first effort, board members changed course.

There is no timeline yet established or a price tag attached. Christopherson said some $4 million was left over from the renovation, which — based on the $770,000 previous estimate — should more than cover the bridge’s expense.

As supporters line up, school board divided over Natrona County High pool, bridge

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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