YMC Board discusses a new county courthouse

GRANITE FALLS – The Yellow Medicine County Board on Tuesday took the first steps toward a new courthouse to replace the old county courthouse built in 1894 that is slated for demolition. The board considered whether to solicit bids or go with the contractor that remodeled the new county Government Center in 2013. The board agreed to first get information on fees and charges from past contractors Contegrity Group and Fagen Engineering.

Contegrity Group remodeled the new County Government Center on Eighth Avenue in 2013, and Fagen Engineering built the Yellow Medicine County Jail and Law Enforcement Center, first used in 2001, next to the old courthouse.

“I don’t want to take the chance with someone new and have a mess,” said Commissioner Greg Renneke. “I like the work Earl (of Contegrity Group) did. We don’t have time to be nit-picking through this.”

“Earl was very conscious of our budget,” Commissioner Gary Johnson said. “Fagen did great work on the LEC, and Contegrity did great work on this building.”

“Let’s look at what other counties have done, ask them how they found their general contractor,” Johnson said. “We’re talking about a multi-million dollar project; we can spend an afternoon (on this).”

Commissioner John Berends brought forward concerns from his constituents that there were not enough local people working on the last job.

“They need to lower their bids then,” Renneke said.

The board agreed that an architect would not be decided on until a general contractor is found. It also decided that the general contractor hired will be responsible for the demolition of the old courthouse.

In other business, a motion to give $5,000 to the Machinery Museum in Hanley Falls for an air conditioning unit was discussed and voted on.

The museum wants an A/C unit to control humidity for the safety of historical items and to make the museum a comfortable place to work. In talks with Renneke, the museum board asked if the county would help by contributing $5,000 to the $9,500 project.

“We’ve helped the museum in town,” Renneke said. “It’d be nice to help these guys once. Sort of our obligation to help; it’s our building. They take very good care of our building.”

Johnson reminded the board of its $600,000 budget deficit.

The board voted 3-2 to approve the motion, with Johnson and Berends opposing.

The reclassification of the Restorative Justice coordinator position, including a $2,000 per year pay increase, was discussed. Talks were negative until Commissioner Ron Antony reminded the board that it had set up a job reclassification process for employees who felt their job duties have changed and their responsibilities increased. Sharon Hendrichs went through the comparable pay system and was awarded a new job description with a higher pay grade.

“To deny her this would be hard to do. She went through the process,” Antony said. “It’s how the system is supposed to work. The danger is not giving it to her and throwing our whole (reclassification) system out.”

The motion passed 4-1, with Commissioner Louis Sherlin opposed.

Board members unanimously agreed to support the repeal of a law created in 2013 that requires accreditation and licensing for all county assessors by July 1, 2019. Members discussed the cost and difficulty of having to train and license assessors in smaller townships that don’t include the diversity of a city. A resolution will be sent to Yellow Medicine County representatives.