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Chapman: Businesses can’t be forgotten

By Staff | Apr 10, 2014

Two things were made quite clear at the Rugby City Council meeting on Monday. A solution to the armory floor is still far from being agreed on and the school will use the facility regardless of the surface.

Rugby Public Schools Superintendent Mike McNeff was refreshingly honest. When asked if the school teams would still practice at the armory providing it returned to a hard-tile surface, he said yes.

McNeff also acknowledged that a portable wood floor isn’t the most realistic option.

The current floor, installed in 2012, didn’t work. And even before it prematurely wore out, the flex-tile floor was preventing area businesses and organizations from holding trade shows and sales that brought business and profile to the city for years.

Without another true multi-purpose community center of even comparable size, the city needs to consider the solution that benefits the entire community.

That appears to be replacing the failed surface with another that can handle the pressure of heavy machinery and furniture showcased at these important shows.

It is unfortunate that the student-athletes may play on a floor less friendly to shins and joints, but having two wooden surfaces isn’t exactly a given at most schools.

Discussion of a portable wood floor brought out commendable discourse on both sides. Gary Kirchofner, owner of Rugby Homes and RV Center, said he’d be willing to work with other hosts to schedule winter shows in succession. The floor would not need to be removed as much that way.

But even McNeff remained realistic and acknowledged the issues with the portable option. He reminded a packed City Hall that there is plenty of space to move a floor in a place like the Bismarck Civic Center. That space simply isn’t there in a gym as small as the armory. Without adequate training – and there are probably few people in town with experience or time for removing and storing large floors – the floor pieces aren’t likely to stay in great shape.

Jayme Berube brought up the issue of where the floor would be stored if removed temporarily. No one seemed to have answer.

Kirchofner said he’d be willing to pay the extra costs to city employees even though one council member stated that removing and replacing the floor would take 30 to 60 man hours. But Kirchofner doesn’t want to move his show to Maddock or elsewhere, nor should he have to.

“The school needs a building and the businesses need a building,” he said. “Until we have another building, we need a floor everyone can use.”

McNeff’s sentiments weren’t far off: “I just want something that works for us and everybody else.”

Until there is another building, it seems the only way to make it work for everybody and encourage more business for Rugby is a hard surface suitable for the shows. These businesses support the schools and the city heartily. The support should be reciprocated in this instance.

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