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HHS alumnus commits $14K to Gateway fund

Wendell Petersen

Hudson High School class of 1962 graduate and businessman Wendell A. Petersen has committed $14,000 to a matching funds campaign to complete the fund-raising for the Gateway, the tunnel under County F that connects the campus of River Crest Elementary with Camp St. Croix.

Petersen has toured the campus, including the Gateway, and decided to make the donation in an effort to help reach the final goal of 100 percent private funding of the project, according to Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten.

"With this sizable matching contribution, only $11,548 remains before the district's half of the Gateway's construction cost is totally funded with private dollars," she told board members at their meeting last week.

Petersen said in an interview Monday that he hoped his donation would provide incentive to other alumni and prospective donors as the fund-raising committee works to raise the remaining Gateway funds.

Petersen, who was named a Hudson High School Distinguished Alumnus last fall, has been a longtime supporter of the Hudson community and the Hudson School District. For six years, Petersen has provided a Hudson High School graduate from a single-parent family a scholarship to pursue an education beyond high school. Additionally, he offers the scholarship recipient his time as a mentor.

Petersen's contributions extend beyond the Hudson schools to the community, where he has contributed to Bridge for Youth with Disabilities, The Phipps Center for the Arts and Hudson Hospital.

Petersen said he is impressed with the innovations and the district's efforts to build a "very green environment" at the school.

"I am very impressed with all the innovations the district has incorporated into this project. It is not only the obvious thing to do for the efficiency and savings it will deliver but also for the message it sends to the students. After all, we are all just visiting this earth and we need to be responsible."

Petersen said he fondly remembers his time as a student in the Hudson schools and as a camper at Camp St. Croix and sees the Gateway linking the organizations together as an opportunity to support both. He also said he remembers driving on County F and believes the Gateway is an important and insightful safety measure.

Bowen-Eggebraaten said that Petersen sees the Gateway linking these two organizations together as an opportunity to support both.

"Mr. Petersen hopes that his actions will inspire others, particularly Hudson High School graduates, to be stewards and contribute to the Hudson School District and the Hudson community, supporting valuable assets for our youth," said Bowen-Eggebraaten.

The Gateway is used by students and staff to safely cross under County F. According to the school district, students move between River Crest and Camp St. Croix on a daily basis to participate in environmental learning opportunities and health, fitness and outdoor activities at the camp.

The Gateway construction cost of $222,000 was equally divided between the Hudson School District and Camp St. Croix and the YMCA. While the district paid for its portion of the tunnel upfront, the intention was to raise private funds to cover the cost.

Contributions to the Gateway project can be made to the Hudson School District at 644 Brakke Drive. Questions about the project can be directed to the superintendent at (715) 377-3702.