Lyle does civic improvements without taxes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2001

LYLE – For the second time in its recent history, the city of Lyle has undertaken a major civic improvement project without tax help.

Thursday, May 03, 2001

LYLE – For the second time in its recent history, the city of Lyle has undertaken a major civic improvement project without tax help.

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This time, the Lyle Public Schools are the beneficiary.

Once before, the entire community of Lyle was and there have been so many other times, when residents have rallied on behalf of others.

Always, American Legion Post No. 105 and its 115 members have led the way and two examples, the current school gym floor fund-raising effort and a previous Lyle City Park project are good examples.

Jerry Reshetar, superintendent of Lyle Public Schools, says both projects, as well as others in the community, are unique.

"It’s the same people giving of their time and money to do something for their community," Reshetar said. "They do the project or hold the benefit and they’re the same people giving to it and it’s their children and grandchildren, friends and neighbors, who benefit.

"In a town this small, that’s the way it is," Reshetar said.

It’s a circle of community responsibility that goes unbroken: Something happens to a resident, other residents rush to help, the resident gets help from others in the community.

For example, there’s Justin Tieman, whose carpentry shop burned to the ground. A benefit is being held for him to raise money to build a new shop. Tieman, in this mid-70s, will receive help from his friends and neighbors in Lyle.

While telethons benefit from contributions from strangers and benefits in larger cities have a greater population pool to draw from, a benefit in a small town like Lyle depends on the very people sponsoring the benefit.

Students in Lyle Public Schools have a new gymnasium floor. The old one had deteriorated beyond repair.

Water had seeped beneath the surface and caused it to buckle and lose its resiliency. Dribbling a basketball on a fast break could produce a surprise bounce of the ball at the most unexpected – and unwanted – times.

That the floor came with the school building in 1957 also indicated it had reached its life expectancy, so a few years ago, the Lyle Board of Education decided to replace it.

"The school board researched gym floors and got bids for a new one and when we looked at the figures, we decided the district couldn’t afford a new one," recalled Scott Wendt, president of the school board.

Two years ago, when Reshetar replaced Paul Trelstad as superintendent, the project was resurrected. "This time, we said we would do it, but with no taxpayers’ money," Wendt said.

A year ago, fund-raising began. The goal was to raise $47,000 in three increments of $17,000 in the first year and $15,000 for two more years.

Austin Eagles Aerie No. 703 and Austin Elks Lodge No. 414 came through with substantial contributions to get the fund-raising started and the Lyle High School Alumni Club, former standout athletes and students, also made a donation.

One weekend in August 2000, school board members, their spouses and children and school superintendent Reshetar and his wife went to work to remove the old floor.

School board members Dwight DeBoer, Donnie Hanson, Darcy Kline, Randy Fett, Doug Young and Wendt with help from friends and donations of equipment and in-kind services made fast work of the old gym floor and tore it out.

When they were finished, the school board awarded a contract to Ladd Construction of St. Louis Park to install a new floor.

It took them three weeks to install, but early in the girls volleyball season, the new maple floor was in use, according to Carl Ellis, school building custodian.

Superintendent Reshetar described the new gym floor as a "floating floor" with layers of rubber to support the floor and give it resiliency.

It is a state-of-the-art floor that is the equal of any surface in schools everywhere.

For the remainder of the 2000-2001 school year, the new floor was the pride of the school district and fans who flocked to the gym to cheer their Lions teams.

To date, $20,000 has been collected for the new gym floor project and another $23,000 is needed.

Letters to Lyle High School alumni resulted in donations of $4,500.

When the fund-raising is complete, Virgil and Mary Slindee and V&M Hardware will produce a handsome bronze plaque to recognize all donors on a gymnasium wall.

"The community has been great," said school board president Wendt. "We appreciate everyone’s help and donations. American Legion Post No. 105 has donated twice to this project and that’s just super."

According to Wendt, the school board members plan to hold an auction to raise more money and to revisit clubs and service organizations for more contributions.

Wendt is adamant. "There will be no tax dollars spent on this project," he said.

On Wednesday night, April 25, the Lyle American Legion Post No. 105 presented a check for $3,581 to Wendt and Reshetar for the gym floor project.

Fittingly enough, it was the Legion Post’s weekly sandwich night fund-raiser and many residents visited the clubroom for supper and fellowship.

Wendt was buoyant over the generosity of the Legion Post, but put things into perspective when he said, "This isn’t the first time something like this has happened in Lyle. We have raised money for something that everyone could enjoy without using any tax money and that was the playground project in City Park."

Harold Rohne, the post’s charitable gambling manager and a former Lyle mayor, said a committee of volunteers raised $30,000 for the new system equipment in Lyle City Park and adjacent to the Lyle Elementary School, whose students regularly use it. "The Fire Department, Legion Post and a whole lot of people contributed to that project and we were able to do it without spending any tax dollars to improve our park," Rohne said.

Jim Smith suggested holding a March 24 beef supper benefit for the gym floor project. It was a huge success and resulted in $1,790 in net profits from the post’s kitchen fund, which the post matched for the $3,581 total.

Galen Holst, commander of the post, said, Post No. 105 gave away $31,000 in the last fiscal year from charitable gambling proceeds.

"We support scholarships, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts and a wide variety of worthy causes throughout the year," Holst said. "With the Legion Auxiliary, we try to do whatever we can to help when it’s needed," he said.

Reshetar is visibly impressed. "I think the people in the Legion Post and the Auxiliary have been a benefit to people for decades just like they are to the school district today," he said. "It’s something they do best of all and I don’t know how much people really understand about the support of a veterans organization and the impact it has on a community."

Then, Lois Kaput, president of the American Legion Auxiliary, joins Holst, Rohne, Smith and Loren Denisen, the post service officer, on stage for a picture of the check presentation to Wendt and Reshetar.

Everyone smiles and afterwards handshakes are exchanged and Wendt and Reshetar once again express the school district’s appreciation to Post No. 105.

When the special guests leave, the clubroom is near-empty on Wednesday sandwich night and Rohne, Holst, Denisen, Smith and Kaput go back to work, clearing tables, doing dishes and putting away food supplies.

The circle of community responsibility remains unbroken in Lyle.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at