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Fillmore County Board approves building design


Fri, Jan 10th, 2003
Posted in Features

Tuesday, January 7 marked the beginning of what could be a very rocky year for the county’s Commissioners as a 4.5 billion-dollar deficit looms over the state.

"It might not be a fun year," stated Marc Prestby, the board’s newly elected chairman. Regardless, though, he is looking forward to helping keep the county’s goals in sight.

Randy Dahl, Vice Chairman, was equally optimistic. The numbers may look bleak, but the board appeared undaunted as they rallied for another year of managing the county’s budget.

With the new year, comes the annual swearing in of elected officials, which was conducted by Judge Robert Benson. Those sworn in included newly elected District Three Commissioner Chuck Amunrud and County Attorney Brett Corson; returning Commissioners Helen Bicknese, Randy Dahl, and Duane Bakke; and office holders Philip Burkholder, County Auditor/Treasurer; Richard Mensink, County Recorder; and James Connolly, County Sheriff.

County approves building designs

David Kane and Jason Woodhouse, Kane & Johnson Architects, Inc. received the long awaited approval for the courthouse addition and remodeling designs. The two men reviewed the design changes implemented according to the board’s input from their last meeting. Clarifications on grading issues, parking lot layout, ramp changes in the court’s area, and addition of an exterior storage area to replace a small shed, were given.

Suggested layouts for the Board Room and the Zoning Office were also presented. The Board Room would include public seating for at least 32 individuals, be wired for computers, and have a screen for presentations. The Zoning Office would include two private offices, storage space, counter space, and a waiting area.

In order to help keep costs reasonable, wall surfaces will be painted, with the exception of the main lobby and the Commissioners’ Room, which may have vinyl coverings. Floors will be carpeted in main traffic areas with ceramic tile in restrooms. Signage of departments and a central directory will be completed to give the public better directions to their destinations. P.A. systems were also discussed briefly.

Policy Coordinator Karen Brown asked for clarification as to who is responsible for stolen building material and the need for insurance while construction is going on. Generally, if the material has been paid for, the responsibility rests with the county. It was recommended that the county should rent a storage trailer to house building material. During construction, the builders will have four to five trailers at the site.

Judge Robert Benson, Court Administrator James Attwood, Sheriff James Connolly and a Board member will examine security systems. A building security review process will be developed to determine what areas need to be secured and how.

David Kane requested a subcommittee be created to consider the "hundreds of details" that must be decided on in the next six to eight weeks. Commissioners Bakke and Amunrud will be included on the subcommittee. Final decisions still rest with the board as a whole.

Kane asked the Board to decide on a proposed building phase system. He cited four options. 1) Upon completion of new addition, move in as many departments as possible to allow workspace for the remodeling. 2) Remodel the top floor first and then work on the first level. 3) Work on a top/bottom section at one time progressing through the courthouse. 4) Move to a temporary location while work is being done.

The forth option is the least expensive and would allow the project to be done the quickest, approximately in 20 months. The board mulled over the idea of using the old telephone building next to City Hall. Other temporary digs include the GSI Office, Extension Office, City Hall, and the F&M Bank basement. It was also noted that the newly elected County Attorney Brett Corson already has an office in Preston. As the ideas spewed forth, Kane smiled as only an architect can when a vision comes closer to becoming a reality. More information will be gathered on all potential sites and brought back to the table.

When it was time to actually vote on the proposed designs, Chairman Prestby and Commissioner Bakke lagged back a bit, not totally convinced that the addition/remodeling was the way to go. Bakke wanted it made clear that they weren’t doubling the floor space. He’d rather have seen the project cut back a bit. Judge Benson pointed out that the county needs to look ahead, additional space must meet the growing needs of the county. When the vote was called for, the plans passed with Chairman Prestby voting against it.

In a later conversation with Prestby, the chairman said that in light of the state’s deficit, he would rather have seen the project scaled back to come in under the three million mark. (The proposed figures run closer to four million.) Prestby said he doesn’t want to see the taxpayers burdened with the financial responsibility.

Dean Sand, CAM, Inc. reported that the work being done in the new courthouse building across from the Sheriff’s Department is near completion. The remodeling will be done in two weeks and is well within its budget.

Other business

•Yearly appropriations for 13 different agencies came under fire as the Board began efforts to pull in the draw strings of its purse. Commissioner Bicknese said they needed to look at all the agencies and make some cuts.

"I don’t think they waste a penny", shared Commissioner Dahl.

"They all waste money," felt Commissioner Bakke. When the votes came in, the 2003 requests took a back seat to the 2002 appropriations already in place.

•County printing bids were awarded to the following: Official paper, Republican Leader, Preston; 1st printing, News Recorder, Mabel; 2nd printing, Tri-County Publishing, Rushford; Tax Delinquent list, Chatfield News, Chatfield.





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