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YM County selects contractor for courthouse project

GRANITE FALLS — A path is starting to take shape towards building a new facility to replace and raze the 1889 courthouse and a 1970’s addition to it in Yellow Medicine County.

The county board of commissioners selected the Contegrity Group Inc. of Little Falls to serve as general contractor for a project. In their action on Tuesday, the commissioners approved a not-to-exceed bid of $320,000 by the firm. They had also considered a $360,800 bid by Fagens Inc. of Granite Falls.

The commissioners had previously tabled action until receiving written assurances that both bids provided a similar range of services with a not-to-exceed provision.

County Administrator Peg Heglund said the general contractor will now work with the county to draft a request for proposals to retain an architect for the project.

The commissioners have been discussing a project in the $5 million range. The estimate was based on a previous, space analysis and needs study completed by Wold Architects for the county. That study identified an estimated $8 million project, but county staff has since pared down the number of offices and building size. Contegrity will help the county determine how reliable its estimates are in going forward, the administrator noted.

The commissioners said they would like to hold a public hearing in August on the proposal to know whether it will be supported by the public or challenged. A referendum is not required for the project, and the county does not have plans to hold one.

The administrator said that a referendum could be required if a petition was submitted by residents seeking one. The petition would need to be signed by 5 percent of those voting in the last general election, it is believed.

The commissioners said they have not been hearing opposition to the proposal, but said residents want to know what it will cost and its tax impact. “I’m not getting asked ‘what are you doing?’ I am getting asked what is going to cost me,” said Commissioner Ron Antony, Canby.

He and other commissioners said the goal now is to use the services of Contegrity and an architect to give taxpayers the numbers they are asking to see.

County officials were also to meet informally with a group of citizens who has expressed concerns about losing the original courthouse building.

Tom Cherveny

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

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