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County Board plans fixes to Government Center

WORTHINGTON -- In a little more than a month, Nobles County Commissioners will have a look at bids submitted for mechanical and electrical upgrades in the county's government center on 10th Street in downtown Worthington.

The total project estimate for the proposed work is approximately $600,000.

Steve Johnson, of Vetter Johnson Architects, said the assessment of the building began as a boiler replacement project, but numerous other issues with the 1973-built structure were discovered.

Plans are to replace the entire boiler plant (two boilers) in the building, improve ventilation in the parking garage, replace the water heater and convert the air handling units to computer-based controls. Electrical projects include material upgrades, daylight harvesting in work areas, pedestrian lighting and the addition of some central building mounted lighting. Some minor construction will need to be performed as a result of the work.

Johnson said he would have the bids ready for review by commissioners at their June 19 meeting. Commissioner Vern Leistico asked that a clause be included in the bid process specifying that priority will be given to local bidders.

In addition to the electrical and mechanical work, Johnson said his firm is also looking to improve the masonry issues, particularly in the stair towers of the government center.

"We thought we'd deal with the situations above grade before we start digging around the building again," Johnson said, adding that he believes water is getting into the towers through cracks in the stone.

"We want to put a sealer on that stone, in particular the rough-cut stone," he said.

His company had budgeted $90,000 for sealant around the flat stone joints, but estimates are now totaling nearly $200,000. Johnson said if the county wanted, it could choose areas of priority and do the work in phases.

"In my mind, it'd be best to do the whole building at once and be done," said Commissioner Marv Zylstra.

"I would recommend getting it done and getting it done right," added Commissioner Bob Demuth.

Board members decided to have the building committee do another walk-through and discuss the project before they make a decision.

In other action, the board:

* Approved a resolution outlining the county's share in the cost for the new stoplights that will be erected at the intersection of Minnesota 60 and Armour Road as part of the highway expansion project. The county will split the cost with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for the lighting, with each paying $122,904 for the project.

* Supported the request to update the needs assessment for the Nobles County Developmental Achievement Center. The center is currently licensed to serve 65 consumers; there are now 60 consumers utilizing the DAC.

Within the next one to three years, Nobles County expects to refer nine new individuals to the DAC, and other counties have also indicated they will be sending more to Worthington for service. The Department of Human Services sets the licensure, and the request will be to increase from 65 clients to 85 clients.

No additional space is needed for the increased client numbers, however, additional staff will be needed.

* Approved the following conditional use permits reported at the county's planning commission meeting: Jeremy Van Ede, Adrian, to operate a graphic design business from his residence; Ken Wolf, Adrian, to construct a new hog barn; Dave VanderKooi, Worthington, to expand onto an existing dairy barn and construct a new lagoon; and Andy Henning, Adrian, to construct an open manure basin.

* Approved the naming of the new service road constructed in front of Schaap Sanitation, Dyke's Auto Salvage and Worthington Ag Parts. The road is designated as 271st Street.

* Approved a contract with the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council for Nobles County Human Services to act as a pass-through agency for $252,913 in Department of Human Services dollars. The money is used by the PIC for employment training, support and other programs.

* Approved a labor agreement with Teamsters 320, the human services employees. The three-year contract will include a 0 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2012, 1.25 percent increase for 2013 and a 2 percent increase for 2014.

* Approved a labor agreement with the law enforcement licensed essential employees. The one-year contract will include a 0 percent COLA for 2012.

* Approved advertisement for bids for pavement marking services. In hopes of receiving better bids, Nobles County has combined its request with those of the city of Worthington and Cottonwood, Jackson and Rock counties.

* Learned that right-of-way acquisitions are progressing as the county moves forward with development of a trail along Crailsheim Drive.

* Reappointed Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder to another four- year term.

* Approved a second quarter appropriation of $8,000 to the Worthington Regional Economic Development Authority; and a $3,825 annual appropriation to the Southwest Initiative Foundation.

* Approved a joint powers agreement between the county and the Minnesota Department of Corrections to allow certain inmates to perform work release.

* Tabled a request for a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with University of Minnesota Extension for the 4-H program coordinator position. The existing MOA is in place until the end of 2013. More discussion will take place at the May 22 meeting.

* Authorized credit card approval for Joe Udermann, Nobles County Assessor.

* Appointed Byron Swart to the county's zoning board of appeals.

* Approved the temporary road closures of Nobles County 11 and 30 in Ellsworth from 2 to 3 p.m. June 16 for the community's annual Family Fun Days celebration.

* Discussed candidate interviews taking place this week for both the interim county administrator and emergency management director positions.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

(507) 376-7330