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Logo limbo

The West Fargo School District eventually will have an official logo, but it could be a while.

During Monday's school board meeting, members received news from West Fargo High School Principal Gary Clark and Athletic Director Curt Jones that work was moving forward to officially trademark the snorting bull logo associated with the Packers.

West Fargo Business Manager Mark Lemer said the district was working with a local lawyer, James Johnson, whose Marsh Fischmann & Breyfogle LLP offices actually are located in Colorado. Lemer said Johnson's first step will be to do a search in order to make sure West Fargo's current non-trademarked logo isn't too similar to logos already in use elsewhere.

The search will cost $1,500, Lemer said, toward a grand total of approximately $3,800 for all legal services provided.

The process could take nine months or longer.

Long wait aside, to have a trademarked West Fargo logo definitely will be a bigger benefit than deficit to the district, Clark said.

To highlight the demand, he presented the board with a letter recently received from Wal-Mart, asking that it be allowed to use West Fargo's logo at their stores "assuming we had a trademark," Clark said.

Currently, anyone can use the district's logo any make monetary gains without any ramifications or compensation to West Fargo Public Schools.

"People are making money off our logo, so it makes sense to do this," Jones said.

Board member Ben Koppleman noted that making money isn't the only reason the district needs a trademarked logo, however.

"We need something that says 'this is who we are,'" he said.

Construction bids tough to swallow

When the numbers came in, nobody was smiling; at least not the members of the West Fargo School Board.

During Monday's meeting, board members discovered that bids for construction and additions to the Osgood Kindergarten Center came in well over projected cost estimates.

The total cost of the lowest bids for the base bid construction of adding a gymnasium and eight classrooms was $2,886,900 or $108,145 more than estimated from architects at YHR Partners, Lemer said.

The higher-than-expected bids were blamed on several elements. For starters, federally mandated wages have increased since cost were first estimated, YHR officials said.

Commodity prices also have skyrocketed. Director of Buildings and Grounds Pete Diemert said copper has increased a lot, and the price of sheet metal has gone up five percent even since bids were received.

A lengthy discussion followed by the board, with members split on how they should proceed.

David Olson wondered if they should proceed with awarding bids, or if waiting two weeks would hinder any perceived price gouging.

"This first project kind of scares me," he said. The contractors "know we're under the gun."

Koppelman echoed Olson's sentiment

"If this gets out of whack ... we're going to have to have a discussion," Koppelman said.

Lemer cautioned that the district was on a strict timeline, however, and too much delay would mean pushing back construction times beyond desirable limits. He instead asked that the board approve instructing the administration to reduce the overall cost of the project through value engineering by collaborating with the design team and the contractors. Results would be reported back during the next school board meeting March 28.

Some possible value engineering solutions discussed were changing the curved roof to flat, and replacing the metal material with colored adhered EDPM. Cost savings just from those changes were more than $150,000.

Superintendent David Flowers tried to put things in perspective.

"Are we going to hold up this project, which we desperately need, because of $108,000 out of $2.5 million?" he said.

The measure barely squeaked by 4-3, with Board President Karen Nitzkorski, Judy Kvaale, Angela Korsmo and Kay Kiefer voting for, and Koppelman, Olson and Patti Stedman voting against.