The future of Tonkin still unknown

The former Riverton High School that sits on the hill has been in limbo for several years now, and steps have been made toward a possible demolition in its future. One thing has been clear during this time of uncertainty – it has sentimental value to several Riverton residents and many of its grads.

With funding from the state cut to maintain the building and grounds, Fremont County School District #25 would have to dip into its general fund or eliminate necessary facility projects, according to Superintendent Dr. JoAnne Andre-Flanagan.

So far, updates and renovations to the building and grounds have made it cost-prohibitive for interested buyers. Many are still hopeful though.

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“Our last facility study by the state showed that we were about 160,000 Square feet over our allowable square footage for the district,” Andre-Flanagan explained. “With budget cuts looming it’s not fiscally responsible for us to spend general fund dollars or other major maintenance dollars on excess square footage.”

This year, the district received state funds to remedy this excess square footage and move the current building occupants into other facilities.

“This includes funding for a new wrestling facility at RHS, the remodel of a section of the career center to house our maintenance staff and equipment and the remodel of the existing maintenance shed to house Frontier Academy. In addition, we have found space in our other buildings to continue to support the BOCES and Wyoming Department of Education offices currently located in Tonkin.”

“Once the building is emptied, and we don’t have any other entities interested in purchasing, the responsible thing is to move forward with demolition,” Andre-Flanagan continued. “The board has agreed to move forward with requesting and securing funds at the state level to demolish Tonkin once the remedy is complete. We are just beginning this process and it will take some time.”

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“If we secure funding and someone steps forward to buy Tonkin, we do not have to move forward with demolition…but if we empty Tonkin and don’t have the dollars secured for demolition we will either have to take that money out of our general fund for demolition, continue to spend money on maintaining an empty building, or run the chance of the building sitting vacant and becoming an eyesore as well as potentially dangerous.”

The upper stands of the stadium were removed in June due to public safety concerns.

However uncertain the future of the building and stadium are – we do know that the ice rink, aptly named “Tonkinfellar Plaza,” will be up and going in the near future. R-Rec shared with County 10 they hope the weather will cooperate to open up by December 18th.

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