Backus fate to be decided tonight

The fate of the AB-Backus complex could be decided tonight at a meeting of the International Falls school board.
The falls school board is set to announce a decision over the building complex at a public meeting at Falls High School room 122 starting at 3:45 p.m.
Two groups are vying for control over the complex, but a spokesperson for “Citizens for Backus-AB” is confident they will be named new owners of the buildings.
“It’s looking very promising, as far as I can tell,” said International Falls resident Margarett Patnode who has been with the group since it formed several months ago.
“I am hopeful. But anything is possible and they could not give it to us,” she noted.
So far the group has been in negotiations with the school board about their plans to keep the building complex open.
“We’ve met with the school board appointed committee to discuss the pros and cons of our proposal,” she said.
In the mean time, they have been raising money through a benefit concert and personal pledges, and currently have at least $60,000 (U.S.) to put towards keeping the building open.
Their plan also includes renting out space in the complex to a number of local groups, including the Koochiching Museum, who have already asked to rent out the space in the AB portion of the school.
The school board announced it would close the complex June 30 in order to save an estimated $100,000 annually.
On July 1, it accepted proposals for possible purchase of the buildings and has until the end of the month to accept or reject them.
Patnode is confident their group will gain control of the buildings since the other group “Character for Backus-AB” does not intend to purchase Backus, but instead wanted the board to invite the Institute of Basic Life Principles into the complex.
She said she is glad that months of worry over the fate of Backus, which houses the largest auditorium on both sides of the border, will be decided.
“To me, it is a tremendous relief,” she said.

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