County board talks capital projects, court remodel

MARSHALL – Planning for the future was one of the main topics of discussion Tuesday at the Lyon County Board’s regular meeting. County commissioners held a strategic planning session to help prioritize upcoming capital improvement projects.

Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg said there were several areas where county commissioners needed to set some priorities and give direction to county staff. Those areas ranged from capital projects, to human resources issues and technological updates. Commissioners focused on the capital improvements portion of the list on Tuesday.

The board’s agenda for the planning session included about a dozen possible priorities for capital projects in the county, including development of Twin Lakes Park and the Marshall-to-Camden State Park bike trail, parking and storage issues at the Lyon County Government Center and possible HVAC improvements at the Lyon County Historical Museum. Commissioners talked about the projects on the list but in many cases they noted that specifics of a project depended on outside factors like the availability of grant funding or interaction with other government entities, like the city of Marshall.

Commissioner Steve Ritter said the county was already involved with some of the projects being discussed. Construction of the bike trail and Twin Lakes Park is ongoing.

“Of the 11 items, I think five or six we’ve already committed to,” Ritter said. He proposed that commissioners each make a list of their top priorities and give them to Stomberg.

Commissioners’ consensus was to follow Ritter’s suggestion and to come back to human resources and technology planning at a future planning session

Part of Tuesday’s discussion included possibilities for remodeling the Lyon County District Court facilities on the third floor of the Lyon County Government Center. This fall, court officials told county commissioners that the courtrooms don’t have the space and wiring needed to comply with Minnesota’s coming switch to a paperless court records system.

Stomberg said the county has received three architects’ proposals for a possible courtroom remodel. At this point, Stomberg said, “The proposals we received back are basically just statements of qualifications,” including descriptions of similar projects the firms had completed for other Minnesota clients. In order to come up with more specific recommendations for the Lyon County courts, Stomberg said, the architects suggested doing a study of the facility and the court’s needs.

Two of the architectural firms, Vetter Johnson Architects and Klein McCarthy, estimated a cost of about $17,500 to conduct a planning study for the remodel. A third proposal from Wold Architects and Engineers listed four basic options for the courthouse, ranging from a small-scale remodel to building an addition to the Government Center. More detailed plans would need to be worked out if the county chose one of the options, the proposal said.

Stomberg recommended that commissioners and court officials interview each architectural firm. Ritter said he’d like to hold a special meeting to talk with representatives of the firms.

“It’s a lot easier if you have all three firms here, and all five commissioners can ask questions,” Ritter said.

Commissioners’ consensus on the matter was to work together with Stomberg and county court officials to set a date for a February meeting with the architects.

In other business, commissioners accepted the retirement of county parks worker Mark Swenson and discussed possible ways to fill in for some of Swenson’s duties until a new parks worker could be hired. County Board Chairman Rick Anderson noted that Swenson removed snow from county parks. Anderson offered to volunteer for snow removal this winter in Swenson’s absence. (Anderson was Lyon County parks director before being elected county commissioner.)

Commissioners voted in favor of Anderson’s proposal. Anderson abstained from voting.