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Yellow Medicine County favors building new courthouse

GRANITE FALLS — Yellow Medicine County is looking to build a new structure to replace its aged courthouse, rather than remodel it.

The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 on Tuesday to direct staff to put together a proposal on how to move forward with building a new, 20,000-square-foot facility and razing the 1889 courthouse in Granite Falls and the 1970s addition to it. The newest portion of the campus that houses the jail and social services offices would remain intact.

The vote came after the commissioners heard a second report on the estimated costs for upgrading the courthouse. Josh Cowdery, CTS Group, told the commissioners that the basic needs for upgrading the courthouse would cost $2.1 million.

It would cost more than $4 million to upgrade the courthouse and meet some of the county’s needs to improve the court system and provide office space for the county attorney in the building, according to the report from CTS.

The estimated costs for building new at the site and razing the structure have varied, but the commissioners have seen one proposal for a 20,000-square-foot facility at $4.4 million.

I can’t see us entertaining remodeling the old courthouse,” said Commissioner Ron Antony after referencing that estimate.

Antony and Greg Renneke authored a motion to direct staff to pursue new construction rather than remodeling. Commissioner John Berends and Louis Sherlin supported the motion.

Commissioner Gary Johnson voted no. Johnson said he wanted to see a referendum on the county’s building needs. He would also like to see the county return to its original proposal of spending an estimated $700,000 to address basic requirements to upgrade the courthouse building.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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