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Rescue squad, humane society get new digs

A collie is pictured by the fence Tuesday at the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County in Willmar. Bids have been approved to construct a new humane society facility in Willmar. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

WILLMAR -- Bids were approved Tuesday and construction will begin this spring on new buildings to house Kandiyohi County's rescue squad and the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County.

Both structures will be built in Willmar.

Competition for the projects was good and bids were well under the estimates.

"Timing was excellent," said Kandiyohi County Commissioner Harlan Madsen. There were 19 bidders for the Humane Society and 16 bidders for the rescue squad building.

The rescue squad building was estimated at $1,568,796. The low bid from Ram Building Inc. of Winsted was $1,130,800.

The Humane Society building was estimated to cost $575,611. The low bid from TDS Construction of Waconia was $515,400. The lowest bid of $457,257 from Ebert Construction of Corcoran was rejected because the bid information was incomplete.

Commissioners ex-pressed disappointment that the general contractors are not local, but they expect that many of the subcontractors would be local.

The Kandiyohi County Commissioners unanimously approved the bids as well as an agreement to share the financing for the Humane Society facility with the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County and the city of Willmar.

The county will use $250,000 in reserve funds for the construction and the Humane Society will match that funding "dollar for dollar," said Madsen, who was on the multi-agency building task force that had studied construction options since December of 2007.

The Humane Society has currently raised 91 percent of that $250,000 figure and has agreed to obtain a loan if the rest cannot be raised by the time the final payment is due.

The city of Willmar has pledged $10,000 a year for the next five years.

The county and Humane Society will split the estimated $36,000 cost for architectural fees. The Humane Society will also pay for any remaining construction costs.

Although the county will technically own the building, the Humane Society will pay for all after-construction costs such as maintenance and insurance.

The rescue squad building will be paid for with reserve funds the county has been saving specifically for the project.

In a later interview, Madsen said he's been in nearly daily communication with Minnesota's congressional delegation about possibly obtaining federal stimulus funding for the rescue squad building.

Madsen said federal leaders may be inclined to award financial assistance because of Kandiyohi County's "deliberate decision" years ago to have a cost-effective, efficient and unified county rescue squad rather than to compete with towns and purchase duplicate equipment.

"It's been very well-received," said Madsen of the request for stimulus money. "But if nothing happens, so be it."

He said if the county doesn't ask, there will most certainly be no federal stimulus funding allocated.

The building task force had originally considered housing the rescue squad and Humane Society in one common building. Because of different mechanical and architectural needs Madsen said it was more cost-effective to build two separate buildings.

The new buildings will replace structures that are in sorry shape.

The rodent-infested rescue squad building has a leaky roof, inadequate storage for specialized equipment and no cleanup facilities for volunteer crews.

After equipment is moved to temporary housing, the old building will be demolished and the new structure will be built on roughly the same site on the east side of Willmar.

The Humane Society building, which is actually owned by the county Highway Department, is crowded, drafty and lacking proper housing for cats and dogs. The new building will be located on a two-acre site in the industrial park.

"We are thrilled," said Steve Gardner, a member of the Humane Society.

Gardner said the new facility, which he praised as being an excellent example of public and private cooperation, will be a model for humane societies and could eventually develop into a regional facility.


Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750