Dakota Middle School & Knutson Construction Earn Rochester’s First MNSHARP Award

(Rochster MN) Rochester Public Schools

On February 24, 2022, Knutson Construction along with Rochester Public Schools accepted the MNSHARP award for our District’s newest middle school, Dakota Middle School.

“MNSHARP has been around since 2006 and has handed out 60 awards like this since its inception,” said Tom Leimer, General Manager of Knutson Construction. “What’s really cool about this, this is the first time this award has ever been given out in the city of Rochester.”

Mr. Leimer is talking about MNOSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (MNSHARP). This program recognizes major-construction companies where managers and employees work together to develop safety and health programs that go beyond basic compliance with all applicable OSHA standards and result in immediate and long-term prevention of job-related injuries and illnesses. Construction projects at least 18 months in duration are eligible for participation in MNSHARP Construction.

On February 24, 2022, Knutson Construction along with Rochester Public Schools accepted the MNSHARP award for our District’s newest middle school, Dakota Middle School.

Mike Stock, Health and Safety Manager at Rochester Public Schools for the past 16 years said, “I am very proud to be in this group with our contractors, Knutson Construction, and our team at RPS.” Mr. Stock has worked in the construction field for 30 years and worked directly in the area of health and safety for 22 years. “What an experience,” Mr. Stock added,  “Safety doesn’t get recognized enough. We really appreciate all the work that has gone into earning this recognition, especially for those of us in the trenches. Our contractors made this award happen.” Mr. Stock also acknowledged his colleagues in the department, Scott Sherden, Executive Director of Operations, Bill Burt and Leah Barbosa, Coordinators of Construction Services, and Kari Vandal, Health and Safety Office Manager.

During the recognition event at Dakota Middle School, Mr. Leimer also recognized and thanked his team, with a special acknowledgment to Chris Benson, Safety Manager for Knutson Construction. Under careful leadership, the Dakota Middle School construction site has had 341 days of work (at the time of writing this) without a “lost time injury.”



“The MNSHARP award represents a commitment that all construction workers made on day one of the project, and that was to work safely throughout all phases of construction, allowing everyone to go home safe at the end of the day,” said Mr. Benson. “Knutson and the District made that commitment and our trade partners immediately jumped on board.” During the MNSHARP presentation, Mr. Benson recognized the project team, Knutson field staff, subcontractors, design professionals, and the District for their continued commitment to job site safety.

This is Knutson Construction’s fifth MNSHARP Award, and the first project in the City of Rochester to receive this award. Knutson Construction will be recognized this May at the Minnesota Governor’s Safety Award Luncheon.

Dakota Middle School is one of four schools that is being constructed in Rochester due to the successful passage of the 2019 bond referendum. Dakota is set to open in August 2022 and will serve students in grades six through eight as well as offer community use through access to a commercial kitchen and state-of-the-art auditorium and gymnasium spaces.

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