Northern picks out permanent home for chancellor


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Havre's university is proposing to buy a house for its chancellor to live in the same house he's living in now.

Montana State University-Northern will ask the Board of Regents for permission to buy the house at 1325 11th Ave. at the regents' July meeting, vice chancellor Chuck Jensen said.

"Barring any adverse or negative decision, we would hope to close on the house the end of July," he said Monday. "I think it's a good option for the college. It's a nice home."

The chancellor's former house, at 11 Park Road, was damaged in February 2000. A water pipe in the garage froze and leaked water for several days while then Chancellor Mike Rao and his family were out of town. The water seeped into the ground under the west wing of the house, causing it to settle as much as a foot over several weeks, causing extensive interior and exterior damage.

In an earlier interview, Chancellor Alex Capdeville said the estimate to repair the damaged wing was $240,000. Adjustors determined that the undamaged wing of the house was also unstable, he said.

The university will use the insurance settlement on the old home, $217,000, to purchase the house Northern rents for Capdeville now. About a month after the Park Road house was damaged, the house on 11th Avenue was partially given to the Montana State University-Northern Foundation, and partially put into a trust for the foundation.

The house had an assessed value in 2001 of $257,847, according to Hill County tax records, but since it was partially given to the foundation, the foundation can sell it for the lower amount, foundation executive director Tom Reynolds said today.

"Everybody comes out well," he said. "The state got a home for what the insurance is paying and (the foundation) can meet the obligation of the trust and the chancellor can be in the solid home."

Rao and his family stayed in the 11th Avenue house until he left the job in June 2000. Capdeville has lived in the house since he was named chancellor in September 2000.

The university announced it was negotiating to buy several other homes when it requested authority from the regents in May to buy a house for the chancellor. One of those houses, at 2556 Old Post Road, had an asking price of $360,000. An anonymous donor offered a donation to make up the difference between the price and the insurance settlement on the stipulation that the money only be used for that purchase.

The house on Old Post Road had a 1997 assessed value of $213,600, and will be reassessed in the next couple of years, said Yvette LaValley of the Hill County assessor's office.

The difference between the 1997 assessed value and the asking price is not that unusual, she said.

"It's all according to what the market's doing," she said.


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