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Yellow Medicine County, Minn., awards bids for remodeling office building

The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to award bids totaling $564,204.14 to remodel this building in downtown Granite Falls. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

GRANITE FALLS - Yellow Medicine County will remodel a former bank building into offices for county services at a cost nearly identical to estimates provided a few months ago.

The Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 on Tuesday to award bids totaling $564,204.14 to remodel the former bank building in downtown Granite Falls. That's within $2,000 of the construction estimate provided by Contegrity Group Inc. when the project was offered for bids in March.

Commissioners Ron Antony, Greg Renneke and John Berends voted to award the bids. Gary Johnson and Louis Sherlin cast the "no" votes. Johnson expressed concerns about the decision to remodel the building. Sherlin said his no reflected his opposition to not including the bid alternates as part of one motion. The commissioners approved the alternates on a second vote of 4-1 with only Johnson voting "no."

The project involves remodeling the building to hold county offices now on the first floor of the courthouse building. They include the offices for administration, property, records, assessor, information technology, and finance. The county commissioners' meeting room will also be located in the downtown building. It was originally built in 1974 as the Yellow Medicine County Bank, but had been used as offices for Fagen Engineering Inc. until purchased last autumn by the county.

The overall project will cost an estimated $1.1 million when the purchase, construction bids, architectural and construction management fees, furnishings, engineering, permits and other fees are all totaled, according to Earl Fuechtmann, project manager with the Contegrity Group, of Little Falls, and John McNamara, project architect and partner with Wold Architects, of St. Paul.

Supporters of the project on the board said that estimate still makes the project a good investment for the county to solve its space needs. Ron Antony, board chairman, noted that an earlier estimate for buying land, adding utilities and constructing an equal-sized building of 8,635 square feet was in the range of $2.8 million.

He and other commissioners agreed that the remodeling costs are higher than what they had expected before they purchased the building and brought on architects and a construction management firm.

Johnson said he was upset because initially he understood it would cost the county in the range of $250,000 to $300,000 to ready the building for county use.

Decisions made to add an elevator to make the second floor serviceable, replace the entire roof, install bathrooms, and make a series of other changes to better adapt the building to how the county provides services added to the costs, according to McNamara.

"If I had known it was to be $1.1 million,'' said Johnson of the overall cost, "I would have leaned towards putting a new building up.''

Work is likely to start on the project in a couple of weeks, with occupancy targeted for October.

The commissioners are also looking at the need to remodel the area of the courthouse to be vacated when the remodeled downtown building is opened as well as the upper floor of the courthouse now occupied by the Eighth Judicial District Court services. Representatives of the court system approached the commissioners in October to urge them to consider upgrades to the court facilities. They are located in the portion of the courthouse building constructed in 1889. Other building additions have been made at least twice over the years, but court services are located in the original portion.

Tom Cherveny

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

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