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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Yellow Medicine County reaching out to constituents again

  • Following a severely underwhelming turnout to last week’s presentation detailing options for the retrofit or new construction of the 125 year-old Yellow Medicine County Courthouse, county commissioners want to give their quest for public input another go.
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  • Following a severely underwhelming turnout to last week’s presentation detailing options for the retrofit or new construction of the 125 year-old Yellow Medicine County Courthouse, county commissioners want to give their quest for public input another go.
    “I wish there was a way to reach  out to more people. I had one person call me,” said commissioner Ron Antony regarding the courthouse situation.
    The need to remedy space constraints at the Yellow Medicine County Courthouse has been a much discussed issue amongst the  board for several years. In 2012, the county elected to move forward with purchase of the 8,635 square foot former Fagen Engineering building for $450,000 so that it could be turned into a one-stop-shop government center.
    Including the building's purchase price, the entire cost of the project is expected to come in at approximately $1.1 million.
    Originally, it was thought that by moving property and public services over to the government center, it would free up space that could be renovated to accommodate current needs of the County Attorney. The court system then came forward later on, voicing their concerns that the space they occupy is also said inadequately met by the current courthouse.
    A facilities study incorporated remedies to these issues while also taking an in depth look at the state of the physical plant itself. In the end, much of the building’s inner sytems were found to be in need of replacement or repair while the structure itself proved unsuited for remodel.
    The recommendation: a complete tear down and rebuild, for a cost in excess of $8 million.
    In discussion, it is apparent that the commissioners may not have voted to purchase the Fagen building if they were aware that the courthouse was going to be replaced. Nevertheless, the construction cost per square foot proved significantly less than it would have to build new and locating a public services away from court, law enforcement and social services, etc. is not uncommon.
    Still, some board members have expressed that they’ve heard a chorus of complaints that have derived the relatively muddled process.
    Commissioner Louis Sherlin suggested that courthouse reconstruction  be brought to referendum, but received little backing based on the perception that the uninformed public would almost certainly vote no.
    “I can pretty much anticipate the vote would be no (without understanding).” said commissioner Renneke.
    Interestinly, when constituents were informed of the project’s whys, board members said even adamantly opposed indiviuals at least walked away with a tempered perception and  it was not uncommon to see them jump the fence.
    After a lengthy back and forth, commissioners elected to attempt to reach out to the public with information one more time and through a variety of mediums including newspaper ads, public mailings and electronic communications. Based on what they gather, commissioners will then consider making a decision sometime in February.
    Page 2 of 2 - An in depth explanation of the project, including the information on the left side of the page, remains available on the county website now.

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