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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune
  • Yellow Medicine County moving toward new courthouse

  • Yellow Medicine County Commissioners approved the motion 4-1.
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  • With a 4-1 vote, Yellow Medicine County Commissioners approved a motion directing county staff to concentrate efforts toward the most efficient and effective manner to demolish and replace the over 120-year-old YMC Courthouse and 1970 addition while leaving the newest facilities, which house the jail and social services, intact.
    On Tuesday commissioners listened to a follow up presentation by Josh Cowdery of St. Louis, Missouri firm CTS Group, that provided courthouse remodel options and cost estimates in addition to those originally provided by WOLD Architects.
    Cowdery said that CTS’s analysis pegged basic courthouse improvements involving new windows and doors, building controls, electrical, IT/phone infrastructure as well as new security, HVAC and fire alarm systems to cost an estimated $2 - 2.4 million. Adding courthouse remodelling components that meet some of the county’s space needs, meanwhile, would cost $4.1 million. However, the latter figures do not include potential improvements involving plumbing, exterior renovations, American Disability Act entrances, sprinkler systems and attic insulation.
     A space analysis by WOLD Architects originally led to a recommendation this past September that consisted of a tear down and rebuild  of a just under 30,000 square foot structure to meet space needs at a cost of $8 million. In February,  though, WOLD presented a second pared down approach based off input by administration and employees that diminished space needs by leaving the Granite Falls Police and YMC Sherriff’s departments at their present locations and moving Countryside Public Health and the YMC Food Shelf off campus. That option, requiring 18,500 square feet of space was estimated to have cost just over $5.2 million.
    After a lengthy back and forth, the board generally acknowledged that it was in between a rock and hard place in terms of wanting to hold down expenses as well as finance a major project that’s time had come.
    In the end, savings that would come with a lower cost renovation were proving to be short term at best––with an option to build a new roughly 20,000 square feet facility, and which only relocated the Food Shelf off-site, proving to be only marginally more expensive in the immediate future.
    Said YMC Commissioner John Berends, “Everybody just agreed it didn't make financial sense to put money into an old building that didn't address all of our issues.”
    A motion by commissioner Ron Antony called the question directing staff efforts toward a new building. Commissioners Antony, Berends, Greg Renneke and Louis Sherlin voted in favor while commissioner Gary Johnson voted against, noting that he would have preferred for the decision to come through a referendum.
    In other news:
     •Commissioners heard a presentation by YMC Parks Department Director Ryan Meehan. Meehan discussed a number of initiatives he hopes to accomplish over the course over the year, including methods for taking campsite reservations, the development of a tree replacement plan, the creation of recycling areas at Timm and Oraas Parks, a potential new shelter house at Timm Park, new potential park playground equipment and other projects. Also of interest was his comment that there have been a large number of requests to get married at parks in the county this year. Meehan said that he did not know why.
    Page 2 of 2 - •Commissioners passed a resolution in support of April as Child Abuse Awareness Month. Community members are encouraged to wear blue on April 4 to show their support.

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