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A lasting legacy - Journal-Eureka: Anamosa

A lasting legacy

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Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 4:00 pm


Superintendent Brian Ney led efforts to build middle school, win approval of bond referendum and solidify district finances

After three years, two major projects and a bowling league, Superintendent Brian Ney will retire from the Anamosa Community School District.

“He really cares about our district and our kids,” said board member Kandi Behnke. “He's very passionate about having kids succeed and having the district succeed. That leadership has been very positive.”

Ney has made contributions to the district that will last decades while becoming a part of the community in different organizations, including a bowling league. He initially joined the district as an interim superintendent.

“One year morphed into three and looking at a district as a whole, he came in when the district's philosophies were fractured,” said Anna Mary Riniker, a school board member.

Ney served as the superintendent for five years at Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in Cresco — a school roughly the same size as Anamosa.

“It is a difficult position to come in for one year and to stay and not know for how long,” Behnke said. “He was willing to do it, and it reiterates his commitment to the district.”

The “fractured” district was amid plans for a new middle school. He advised the choice of construction and architect firms, something Riniker saw as a valuable contribution to the effort.

“He did line us up with a construction management company that has been extremely beneficial to the school district,” Riniker said.

While some planning was in place, Ney said he was fortunate to be a part of the project's end.

“I am pleased that I was given the opportunity to see that project to a conclusion,” Ney said. “To construct a building such as we did with no property tax levy is an awesome accomplishment.”

The construction of the new middle school included a feature foreign to the district.

Ney wrote and applied for a grant to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to gain funding for a safe room — a room reinforced with concrete and steel rods for students to enter during severe weather threats. The district was granted $772,000 through his application.

“He was responsible for getting us the FEMA grant for the tornado rooms, something I see as a vital part of our building,” school board member Kristine Kilburg said..

As the middle school construction ended, discussion arose for the district to pass $16.95 million bonds to update other facilities.

“Passing the bond issue was a major accomplishment, and many people besides me deserve the majority of the credit,” Ney said.

During a tight vote, the bonds passed just above the necessary 60 percent.

“I am pleased that more than 60 percent of the voters agreed to the needs and the scope of the project,” he said. “I encourage everyone in the district to support the projects and the additions and remodeling that will help provide a strong education for our students well into the future.”

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