North Hiawatha property sold by SMOC for Head Start building

Pipestone County Commissioners plan to sell this county-owned land at the intersection of County Road 6 and 150th Avenue between Holland and Woodstock by sealed bid. The Pipestone Sportsmen’s Club has expressed interest in buying the land for use as a gun range. K. Kuphal

Plans for a new Head Start building in Pipestone are moving forward.

Pipestone County Commissioners during their May 10 meeting approved a bid of $40,000 from the Southwestern Minnesota Opportunity Council (SMOC) for a roughly one-acre piece of land on North Hiawatha Avenue on which SMOC plans to build a new Head Start building. SMOC was the only bidder for the property.

The agency expressed interest in the property in September. The commissioners were interested in selling the property to SMOC for a Head Start building, but had to first have the land subdivided and then advertise if for sale by bid.

SMOC now provides Head Start services in Pipestone at Peace United Methodist Church. SMOC Head Start Director Lori Gunnink told the Pipestone County Commissioners in September that the space SMOC has used at Peace United Methodist Church “has been amazing” and the church has worked with them “very, very well,” but the program is limited there.

Gunnink said last week that now that SMOC has acquired the North Hiawatha property, she can begin to work on a lengthy grant application process to seek around $1 million to $1.5 million from the Administration of Children and Families to build a facility. She said she expects to submit the application sometime this summer.

“It’s still a dream,” Gunnink said. “It’s just a little bit closer to final submission of my grant application.”

Depending on funding, she said, the facility could be around 3,200 square feet with one classroom or up to 6,000 square feet, which would provide room for future expansion.

Head Start is a child development program for 3 and 4-year-olds, including children with special needs, and also provides services to families, according to SMOC’s website at www.smoc.us/headstart.