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County commissioners seek input on new Worthington library

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WORTHINGTON -- Nobles County commissioners will host a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Farmer's Room of the Nobles County Government Center to discuss issuing up to $13 million in capital improvement bonds to fund projects including a new county library in Worthington. A review of the county's capital improvement plan will also be presented.

The county has been considering options for an expanded library for several years, but it wasn't until 2010 that the architectural firm, Vetter Johnson, was retained to do a study of the existing library and a possible expansion there, versus a new building.

"The architectural study illustrated that there wasn't adequate space available at the existing building site to accommodate the needed floor area for the expanded library building, as well as adequate parking," noted the study completed by Vetter Johnson and presented at the Oct. 23 county board meeting. "Additionally, the study pointed to numerous deficiencies in the existing building -- including outdated mechanical/electrical systems and a low-sloped roof that hinders the installation of new mechanical systems."

A 2009 space needs assessment identified the need for a library with a total area of 34,000 to 36,500 square feet to adequately serve the needs of the county's residents.

Based on follow-up results from Vetter Johnson, the county board began a site search, looking at 14 different parcels in Worthington. Each one was rated for convenient access, visibility, land size and value, zoning, topography and other issues.

As board members zero in on a site -- the latest option getting the most attention is the Lampert Lumber site, which would require the downtown business to relocate -- number-crunching has continued on the construction costs.

At this point, the county is looking at construction, contingencies, furnishings, architectural and engineering costs to be approximately $10.55 million, with site acquisition not to exceed $1.5 million.

The additional bonding money sought by the county would be directed to two other projects, including a new maintenance shop in Adrian for the county's public works department. This project, estimated at $250,000, would provide sufficient storage capacity for county equipment. The second project is an expansion of the garage at the Prairie Justice Center in Worthington. The existing garage has space for six squad cars. The expansion would increase the storage capacity to 18 vehicles, which would include room for the county's boat, snowmobile and other equipment. Estimated costs of the building expansion are $200,000 to $300,000.

The library, PJC and public works projects are outlined in greater detail in the amended capital improvement plan, which is available for review at the county administration office, located on the third floor of the Nobles County Government Center, 315 10th St. Copies of the plan will also be available at Tuesday's public hearing.

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

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