School board OKs new pact for wood-burner fuel

The Kane School Board acted Thursday to approve a new contract for wood chips for the wood-burning unit that heats Kane High School.New Growth Resources, Inc. of Wetmore Township submitted the lone bid of $55 per ton for the chips. Board President Ken Kane joined with board members Dick Coleman, Mark Paup, Larry Lamping, Harry Steele, Stephanie Eckstrom, Dave Westerburg and Gary Ziegler in approving the bid. Board member Ed Kocjancic abstained from voting to avoid a conflict of interest. His brother, Mike, owns New Growth Resources.Under the new contract, the price rises from $34.98 per ton to $55 per ton. The previous contract began in 2008 when the biomass project was completed.Steve Perry, business manager for the school district, said between 600 and 700 tons of chips are needed each year to fuel the wood-burning unit.John Rook, facilities manager for the school district, said he is not surprised by the increase in the cost of chips."Wood prices are going up," he said.Even with the increase in the cost of the chips, the district will continue to "make a savings" by burning chips instead of natural gas, Rook said.The school district developed the innovative biomass wood-heating project at the high school in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).The total project cost was $1,358,055.The Forest Service contributed $355,000 for the project. DEP approved a grant of $250,000 for the project. The school district dipped into a capital reserve fund for its share of $753,055. The district's expense for the project actually is only $503,055 because funds would have been needed to upgrade the gas-fired boiler.See full article by purchasing the Nov. 11 edition of The Kane Republican.