OLIVIA — The Renville County Board is poised to approve an estimated $230,231 project to upgrade security for court services in the 1902 courthouse building in Olivia.
The commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday reviewed the latest proposal to address security needs in the building. They are expected to approve it at their next meeting.
The new plan maintains public access to the building at all four entrances, according to County Administrator Lisa Herges. She said it will replace the current manual key entry system with an electronic card system. Renville County employees will use the cards to access the building and their offices during non-public hours, while doors will be open to the public during regular hours.
The plan calls for the installation of monitoring cameras throughout the building. A key component of the plan includes renovating the open court administration counter to provide security to employees and make the counter handicap-accessible.
Other changes include moving the law library and converting the space into three private conference rooms for attorney-client meetings, and adding a railing in the smaller of the two courtrooms.
A county working group has been working with Contegrity Group Inc., of Little Falls, to develop the plan. It replaces an original plan first proposed one year ago. The original working group developed a plan that came with an estimated price tag of $693,000. It called for limiting access to a single entrance to the building and remodeling the entry to include a lobby area. It also proposed full-time security staffing at the entrance.
The commissioners had voiced objections to the cost of the original plan and to restricting access to one entrance. They also had expressed concerns that it would adversely affect the character of the historic building.
The courthouse holds court services on its upper floor. They are accessed via a stairway and elevator. The first floor holds constitutional offices such as the recorder, treasurer and assessor offices. The basement floor holds community corrections and offices for housing and the Hawk Creek Watershed Project.
The county administrator said the working group also wants to see lockers added for the court services area, but have not developed a cost estimate for them. The public would use the lockers to place coats, mobile phones and other items not allowed in courtrooms.
As part of the proposal, the electronic card entry system for the government services building would also be upgraded. This brings the total estimated project cost to $274,231, which is within the amount the county has budgeted for the improvements, according to the administrator.