Nobles County awards bid to develop regional data center

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WORTHINGTON — Three years after Nobles County commissioners considered the potential to convert the former jail inside its downtown Government Center into a regional data center — a hub used not only by the county, but by other counties, cities and school districts across southwest Minnesota — talk resurfaced during Tuesday morning’s board meeting.

After soliciting bids from four different contractors, Deputy Nobles County Administrator Bruce Heitkamp said Marshall-based Doom & Cuypers Construction was the only firm to submit a bid to make structural improvements to the space. The work involves some demolition, reestablishing a portion of the floor, building a staircase to the third-floor space and doing finishing work.

Doom & Cuypers’ bid of $69,803 was accepted by commissioners Tuesday, with encouragement from Commissioner Matt Widboom to reconnect with area counties to see if they are still interested in electronic data storage.

Widboom is concerned that with the time lapse, those entities may have started looking at other options. He asked if staff could secure commitments before the work begins.

In addition to choosing the contractor, commissioners authorized electrical rehab for the space. This will include adding two 200-amp electrical panels with a transformer, as well as a 100-amp panel. Cost of the three panels adds up to nearly $28,500.


Board chairman Justin Ahlers said he’d like the project to be completed before the end of the year. The space, currently used for storage, is in the process of being cleaned out.

“Courts has been working on the (stored) documentation since just before Christmas, determining what needs to be kept and what can be trashed,” said County Administrator Tom Johnson. “That project should wind up this spring.”

In other action, the board:

  • Set public hearings for 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. March 24 to gather comments from constituents on the possible implementation of a half-cent local option sales tax to help fund transportation projects. The hearings will be conducted in the board room, located on the third floor of the Nobles County Government Center.

Individuals unable to attend either of the hearings are welcome to provide comment to Johnson, Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder or any of the county commissioners.

  • Authorized Auditor-Treasurer Joyce Jacobs to apply for grant funding to purchase nine additional DS200 voting machines. The grant would cover 50% of the cost of the equipment, with the county to pay $22,927.50.
    Jacobs has $5,000 in her budget to put toward the purchase, but had not budgeted the full amount, saying she was planning to use voting machines the county already had. Doing so would have resulted in using two different software programs and created added costs.

  • Accepted a bid of $14,306 from Clair Van Grouw Construction to expand the communications room at the Prairie Justice Center. The project will be funded by the county’s capital improvement plan bond.

  • Presented Jean Johnson, social worker with Nobles County Community Services, with the December Excellence in Performance award.

  • Presented Stephanie Ross, registered nurse with Nobles County Community Services, with a 20-year service award.

  • Approved dissolution of the county’s revolving loan fund committee. The federally derived funds that had been in the account were transferred to the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. several years ago to loosen restrictions on the money.

  • Authorized the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to include Nobles County in its inventory study of aggregate resources in the state. It may be several years before the state conducts the survey. Once completed, the county will receive a copy of the report.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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