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County board favors local architect

The Mower County Board of Commissioners knows what architect it wants to spearhead the joint Law Enforcement and Government Center remodeling project — pending some further financial negotiations.

Board members unanimously approved a vote to select Paul R. Johnson Architects as a finalist for the design team; however, they want to be sure that everybody is on the same page. The board sought insight from Judy Enright, who mentioned there were some uncertainties in the architect’s proposal. She urged the board to look further into stipulations surrounding change orders, or unforeseen consequences that would require the firm to charge more or less money for the project.

The county is remodeling vacant space in the Government Center to make room for Health and Human Services. The LEC remodel, which has been described as more cosmetic, will deal with tight space in dispatch and aging facilities in hallways, locker rooms and the lobby.

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 — County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said the entire project is closer to $6 million.

While board members briefly discussed narrowing their sights to two finalists and taking them both on walk-throughs of the facilities to glean more specific pricing information, they also realized that time is a factor. The board would like to have the projects underway by November, and they mentioned that allowing the five firms that they interviewed to keep squabbling over prices could complicate things.

“I want to get the thing on the road,” said board member Jerry Reinartz.

County Coordinator Craig Oscarson mentioned he likes the fact that Paul R. Johnson Architects is a local company, and they have a low price estimate. Several board members toured LEC and Government Facilities after Tuesday’s meeting, so they can devise a tour and more talks for Paul R. Johnson Architects — perhaps next week.

Board approves personnel moves

The Mower County Board approved two personnel decisions at Tuesday’s meeting.

Mower County Deputy Barry Reburn previously decided to retire; however, he changed his mind. The board approved Reburn’s decision to rescind his retirement. Reburn has been with the county for 28 years.

The board also approved the resignation of the county’s Public Health Nurse. Because the employee held a non-union position, officials would not release the individual’s name.

—Herald reporter Jason Schoonover contributed to this report