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Nobles County to seek bonding for multi-use facility

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County commissioners on Thursday authorized up to $10,000 for engineering firm LHB to assemble a report for the Minnesota Legislature in hopes of securing bonding money for a new library/multi-use facility in Worthington.

LHB was hired earlier this year by the county, city of Worthington and ISD 518 to complete a feasibility study for construction of a library, with community education classrooms and a welcome center on the former Campbell’s Soup property. LHB’s design, presented to the three entities in early November, carried a price tag in excess of $26 million.

Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson said Thursday that both the city and the school district would share in the $10,000 fee to complete a bonding request package, bringing the cost for each entity to approximate $3,333.

Commissioner Justin Ahlers asked if voting for the report meant committing to the project.

Johnson said it would be a step forward, but at this point the board wasn’t committing to building the facility. He also said the likelihood of getting bonding (the request will be for approximately $30 million) in the first year after making the request isn’t likely, but if they don’t ask for financial assistance, they won’t get any.

Commissioner Matt Widboom said each entity is working to “grind down” the overall cost of the project, so the amount requested may be less. Meanwhile, Commissioner Donald Linssen said his sticking point with the project is the $2 million cost for site clean-up.

“If that part of it can get done, maybe (the project) can move further,” Linssen said.

Commissioners voted 4-1 for LHB to complete the report for bonding. Casting the lone vote in opposition was Ahlers, who made it clear in his campaign for office — as well as since taking his seat Jan. 1 — that he does not support construction of a new library.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved payment of $259,662.93 to Salonek Concrete & Construction for work completed on the Adrian shop addition.
  • Approved an application to the state for grant funds to cover 75 percent of the cost to purchase 40 electronic poll pads to be used by voters at each precinct. The poll pads will replace the paper sign-in sheets currently used by the county, providing additional privacy for voters. The switch to electronic poll pads will also create efficiencies for the county. The county’s 25 percent match will be approximately $22,125.
  • Approved the classification for a new crime victim/witness coordinator position created in the county attorney’s office. The two-year position is 100 percent grant-funded, with the county required to reapply for the grant after the second year. Kusz said priority will be given to bilingual applicants. If a bilingual individual fills the position, it would save her office some costs currently incurred for translators.
  • Amended a professional services agreement with INSPEC to provide an additional two weeks of construction observation for the Prairie Justice Center reroofing project. The extension is needed due to delays in completing the project. The contractor, Gag Sheet Metal, has agreed to fund the extension.
  • Approved a change on the PJC reroofing project that will save the county $3,380. It involves cleaning and recoating a visibility screen.
  • Approved a professional services agreement with Falls Architecture to complete, for $4,750, design work on the entrances for the new air handling unit to be installed in the Nobles County Government Center.
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 The Farm Bleat

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