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Architects make case for work on Government Center remodel

Mower County could be about two weeks away from choosing an architectural firm to spearhead remodeling projects at the Government Center.

The Mower County Board interviewed five architectural firms Monday, including Paul R. Johnson Architects; Zenk, Read, Trygstad & Associates Incorporated; Wold Architects and Engineers; Paulsen Architects and HGA Architects. Now the board is waiting for county and city staff to come to a consensus on what firm they like best.

County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said two firms stand out to him; however, he won’t mention which ones until speaking with county and city staff to gather their thoughts, as well. Oscarson expects the board to have a vote on the architect at its Feb. 2 meeting at the Mower County Board room.

The county’s cost for the two projects is about $4.6 million — about $3.8 million for the government center remodel and about $800,000 for the county’s share of remodeling the Law Enforcement Center. Including all costs — county and non-county — Oscarson said the entire project is closer to $6 million.

Furthermore, another potential burden during construction arose during Monday’s discussion. Board members and staff spoke about the difficulty of moving dispatch radio equipment during remodeling. Several county and city officials mentioned that is not an easy task.

“Moving dispatch is a big deal,” said Sheriff Terese Amazi.

Oscarson said moving dispatch could cost upwards of $250,000; however, that may be a high estimate. It really depends on if equipment has to be moved twice — once to a temporary location and again to its final spot.

Yet officials discussed potential savings, as well, including money returned from recycling steel from the old jail cells — where Health and Human Services will eventually move its operation.

While Oscarson met with several city and county staff Monday night, not all could stay to address their concerns. City and county staff that will be affected by the move filled out score sheets for each architect; however, Oscarson said it will be about a week before the board and all of those staff members have reached a consensus.