$3.8M county remodeling moving forward

Published 6:42 am Monday, October 31, 2011

The county board could shift the proposed renovation of the Mower County Government Center into high gear Tuesday.

Last week, the building committee recommended the board begin looking into a $3.8 million remodeling project to bring Health and Human Services back downtown.

The county board is expected to vote on whether to move ahead with the early stages of the project at Tuesday’s 1 p.m. meeting, where they’re expected to have a full board after Commissioner Tony Bennett was gone last week.

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The initial steps would be interviewing architects and potential building managers for the project.

County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said the finance committee is going to look into using county reserves for some of the funding, otherwise the board would have to bond.

If the funds are available, that could speed up the project.

If everything goes smoothly, Oscarson said construction could begin by fall of 2012. The project is expected to take about two years: About 10 months to a year for bid process, and about a year to remodel.

The potential remodel is expected to cost about $3.8 million, according to a Knutson Construction estimate completed in September. The county board previously set aside $1 million for the project when it sold the old Health and Human Services building, according to Commissioner Jerry Reinartz.

Oscarson said much of the costs will go toward fully gutting parts of the government center. The old cells of the jail will need to be removed and the old courtrooms will need to be stripped.

“It’s just not designed for office space,” he said.

The remodel for Health and Human Services, which has about 70 positions, will also include a remodel of the Law Enforcement Center. Knutson estimated the LEC remodel at $1.9 million, but $1.6 million of that is already set aside through the city and county.

Other business:

•The board will recognize Dispatch Supervisor Marlys Sorlie’s retirement after 36 years with the county.

•The board will discuss two Conditional Use Permits, including the installation of a 60-meter meteorological tower in Waltham Township.

•Correctional Services Coordinator Steve King will discuss a new fee for the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program.