BENSON — Swift County is moving forward with projects to improve the lower level of the Law Enforcement Center and provide office space there for 6W Community Corrections, and to improve security at the Human Services building.

The Swift County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to undertake both projects.

The Law Enforcement Center project calls for developing existing space to hold offices for 6W Community Corrections and replacing the building’s mechanical systems. The commissioners had initially planned to carry out improvements to the lower level of the Law Enforcement Center in two phases, but opted to do the work as one project after reviewing cost estimates.

Doing all the work as one project will cost an estimated $980,000, according to information from Jonathan Loose, engineer with Wold Architects and Engineers. A proposal to carry out the work in two phases in 2021 and 2023 carried a possible cost of $1.1 million or more.

The decision to carry out the project at one time will also result in less disruption to the operations of the Sheriff’s Office, it was noted. Loose estimated the work would require about three months' time.

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The project to improve security at the Human Services building will cost an estimated $124,800. It includes revising the floor plan to provide more security and privacy for offices by segregating them from public areas. Most important, it includes replacing the front counter and installing a glass barrier.

Making safety improvements to the Human Services building is a top priority, according to the commissioners. Commissioner Pete Peterson pointed to the recent tragedy at the Allina Health Clinic in Buffalo, Minnesota, in speaking to the need to move forward. “I would feel very responsible if there was a situation that could have been preventable due to our lack of action,” he said.

Security is part of the goal in moving 6W Community Corrections into the lower level of the Law Enforcement Center, which is where the Sheriff’s Office is located. It now operates in leased offices that are not part of the courthouse complex.

The commissioners had originally intended to phase the Law Enforcement Center work due to plans to address facilities needs over the next five years by tapping into maintenance and reserve funds, and not bonding. The commissioners approved a report last year identifying more than $8 million in overall facilities needs to address.

The Human Services Department has reserve funds for the work being planned, according to County Administrator Kelsey Baker. The county’s building committee recommends tapping maintenance funds for the Law Enforcement Center work.

The commissioners also approved modifying the contract with Wold Architects and Engineers to provide compensation for the expanded work.

A timeline for the work this year has not been developed. Wold will now begin developing bid specifications.