We were able to go to school right away because of the above — the wind and the rain. This is not true, of course but we were able to enroll in the first grade at the Cogswell Public School a hundred years ago. The hundred years is also not true but it really was a long time ago.

What the class size was I’ve no idea but I do know that our teacher, Mrs. Olsen, had both the first and second grades in the same room. This arrangement of two classes to the room stayed the same up through the seventh grade at which time our family moved from the Cogswell district to the one served by the Forman School District.

In addition to having us in both, these school districts have another common trait: neither one is in existence any more. Some time after we left the area, both were swallowed up in what is now the Sargent County School District.

In addition to the Cogswell and Forman districts there were, at time, 27 other separate school districts in the area that ultimately became part of the Sargent. Should you happen to think this area has had some school voting issues, the process of creating Sargent County Central began in 1947 and finished about a decade later with a lot of civic pride stomped on in the process.

When I relocated to Owatonna I lived with my aunt and uncle and became a volunteer of sorts with the privilege of chauffeuring my cousins to and from the Owatonna High School. I very much enjoyed this task and was more than a little impressed with the school itself. You need to remember, of course, the admirer was this farm kid from the prairies of North Dakota who was easily impressed. As the years went by we were able to become more acquainted with the school in many ways.

You won’t be able to find the swimming pool in the building now but we actually took swimming lessons there longer ago then I care to remember. For a couple years I acted as an instructor teaching English Second Language in a hallway. That was an interesting experience made more so in that there was not room for us in a classroom. Also due to the layout of hallways a guide was needed to find the hall. We also had the privilege of serving on a committee with some guy named Kath seeking to change our sports teams from the Indians to Huskies.

It goes without stating the obvious there have been several additions added and remodeling done over the past years with many opportunities for us to vote “aye” or “nay.” I honestly cannot recall ever voting in the negative for what had been proposed. We were very fortunate to have had school board members and staff acting with nothing but positive motives to make our school system better.

Twenty-twenty hindsight tells us some of the changes and additions, albeit with the best intentions, were probably mistakes. The voting public can share some of the blame, without question. This was especially true about 10 years ago when by six votes we failed to take over and include the Pillsbury property into the school system.

Finding fault is easy to do. We could offer some smart remarks finding fault with the sales effort of the recent failed bond issue but this is not our intent. This writer chooses to lay a good share of the fault and the blame with the tax system in the State of Minnesota. Many property owners are being asked to pay an unfair amount of tax toward school district needs and wants. This is most certainly true with respect to farmers and owners of farm land.

This writer also chooses to vote yes for the Owatonna school district referendum on Nov. 5 and encourages all others to do the same. There are many good and positive things going on today in this community. I am proud to be a citizen of Owatonna and will be even more prideful with the opportunity to boast about a new Owatonna High School! Please join me by voting yes!

Wayne Klinkhammer is now an official “has-been.” He no longer has a title of any sort, but he “has been” involved in many things in the Owatonna community since the northwest wind blew him in here many years ago. You can find him at wayne@theklink.net.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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