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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 28 2012

Kolpack: It's time to right a wrong and get BSA renovated ASAP


Dear Mr. Espegard, Hjelmstad, Hull, Morton, Shaft and Ms. Diedrich and Neset – better known as the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education:

A few years ago, I unsuccessfully attempted to prove that the Bison Sports Arena presented a work environment health hazard, thanks to a strength and conditioning concept that didn’t quite work out. Specifically, when the athletes at North Dakota State start lifting and dropping weights, the first floor ceiling shakes and there are more loud booms than a Boeing 747 festival.

In case, you didn’t know, athletes aren’t exactly doing Zumba and yoga up there.

I found a decibel meter and took readings. I noted a piece of concrete that fell into the head wrestling coach’s office – while I was sitting in there interviewing him. I called OSHA. The only thing I have yet to prove is a loss of hearing by the front office staff.

Guess my investigative reporting skills don’t quite measure up.

Anyway, the fundraising folks in the athletic department have said they’ve raised $30 million of the necessary $32 million to begin the BSA renovation, New guidelines following the presidential house debacle of a few years ago require all funding be secured before putting one shovel in the ground. I get that and quite frankly, that’s a good standard to have.

However, the president at NDSU doesn’t have to eat and sleep in an earthquake zone. The folks at the BSA work in one.

Granted, the timing of this letter is not optimal, considering the audit release of student fees this week. It’s not like the kids will be funding the remaining $2 million, either.

So let’s get to the point: you need to call an audible and let the construction begin – whether the remaining $2 million is raised or not. If you’re shaking your head at this, I would ask that you hold your next meeting in the BSA foyer between 2 and 5 p.m. during a school-year week day.

It would be comical.

Mr. Espegard: “I call this (KAAABOOM) to order.”

Mr. Hjelmstad: “(BOOMKBLAM) say something?”

You get the drift.

Furthermore, it’s time to right a wrong with this project. I would argue that since presumably your board has all hands on building projects, you have a stake in retracting the error in judgment when the weight training center was moved in the first place.

This all-funds-raised concept is not a cut-and-dried rule. Construction on the $51.7 million North Dakota Heritage Center expansion in Bismarck began in 2011 with $39.7 million of appropriated state funds. The rest, raised by the State Historical Society of North Dakota, had yet to be fully accounted for at the time of approval. A Historical Society release said at least $6 million was needed before construction could begin.

The BSA is a dump. There’s nothing like putting my winter coat on to finish a story after a basketball game because all the doors are open to minus wind chills. In the summer, if I want to drop a couple pounds, I simply walk through the 100-degree building a couple of times.

The new BSA will include a basketball practice facility. Which, by the way, I’m going to miss watching the head coach chew out his point guard at the top of his lungs in front of everybody who happened to be in the BSA at the time.

These days, $2 million is a hiccup in our oil-rich state. I’m not sure who the North Dakota legislative folks are who need to put their stamp on higher education projects, but please feel free to forward this letter.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

Kolpack is the host of the WDAY Golf Show Saturdays from 8-9 a.m. on 970-AM.