Murray County makes bid for regional dispatchTwo options set out for bid; construction possible by mid-March
SLAYTON — In a move that may be a case of “too little, too late,” Murray County commissioners approved a motion Friday morning to spend up to $39,500 to update engineering plans for construction and remodeling of their law enforcement center (LEC).
SLAYTON — In a move that may be a case of “too little, too late,” Murray County commissioners approved a motion Friday morning to spend up to $39,500 to update engineering plans for construction and remodeling of their law enforcement center (LEC). They also sent two options out for bid, including one that includes a six-station dispatch center to accommodate the possibility of a regional dispatch.
The county board has discussed expanding and renovating the LEC for several years and has spent approximately $100,000 on studies, engineering plans and updates. For the past year, most of the commissioners were hesitant to commit to the $1.4 million project because of budget concerns and repeatedly pushed back a decision. In June, they opted to revisit the issue in November.
On Monday, the regional dispatch group was presented with a feasibility study by G.J. Therkelsen and Associates and voted for a second time to pursue placing the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) within Nobles County in Worthington’s Prairie Justice Center. When Murray County representatives at that meeting again brought up housing the PSAP in Slayton, others in the group responded with frustration, stating a decision had been made and progress needed to be accomplished to meet their set timeline.
At a Murray County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, the board decided it should put the LEC project out for bid.
It will cost approximately $9,500 to bring the last set of engineer drawings up to date, which is Option 1. The second option, which will be drawn up at a cost of $20,000 to $30,000, would eliminate the jail and add a six- to eight-seat dispatch area. Those costs include preparing the projects for bid.
Murray County Chief Deputy Randy Donahue said the engineering firm estimated it would take up to two months to prepare the Option 2 plans and put together the bid packages. Construction could start mid-March and be primarily finished in December, with contractors returning the following spring to do landscaping work.
“If we don’t get the regional dispatch, we aren’t going to need this,” said Commission Chair John Giese. “We definitely need the space for the sheriff’s office, but what bothers me is how we will pay for it.”
Commissioner Kevin Vickerman, who has been in support of the LEC reconstruction all along, said that there were other counties to the north interested in regional dispatch that did not wish to be housed in Worthington.
“If we continue to wait, no one is going to take us seriously,” he stated. “If we had put this building up a few years ago, there is no question in my mind we would have had regional dispatch here in Slayton.”
Not pursuing the project, he added, meant giving up the possibility of jobs, floor- space rent and the possibility of record-keeping income.
“The further you go down the road by not doing anything, the further you’re going to be behind,” stated Commissioner Bob Moline, who had requested several times in the past year to push back a decision on the LEC project, citing each time that he needed more information.
Commissioner Bill Sauer questioned spending money on the second option if there was uncertainty about participating in a regionalized dispatch located in Worthington.
“We have to go full bore,” Moline responded. “It will send a message that we are willing to go ahead.”
“Nobody is taking us seriously because we haven’t ventured forth,” Vickerman added.
Moline put forth a motion that they go ahead with the expense of finalizing plans and preparing the bid options.
“We are building for the future,” he added.
The motion was unanimously approved during a roll-call vote.
When the regional dispatch group formed, each county was asked to make a resolution to commit to further study of the project. Rock and Murray counties, respectively, approved resolutions, but the Nobles County Board of Commissoners made a slight change in the wording of its resolution, stating it desired to participate in further discussion on a dispatch that utilized the existing infrastructure in Nobles County at the existing Prairie Justice Center. Cottonwood County, which had originally stayed out of the proceedings, resolved several weeks ago to commit to the study group.
Toward the end of the Murray County board’s discussion Friday, Sauer asked that its own resolution be changed to state it would be a part of regional dispatch as long as the PSAP was located in Murray County. That resolution needs to be drafted and will be voted on at their next regular meeting.