Posted 10/09/13 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
In preparing for the McKenzie County Courthouse building renovation and expansion project, it came to the attention of county leaders that business would not be able to go on normally during the construction process. Even though the intention was to stay in the courthouse building and work around the construction to keep things as normal as possible for the public, county leaders learned from the builders that the entire front of the Courthouse building would have to be removed.
“We are already strapped for space in the Courthouse building,” states Linda Svihovec, county auditor. “And, not only are we losing the whole front of the building, the entire front parking lot will also be gone during construction. That affects 54 building employees and the public who rely on parking.”
After looking at all available options, which included spreading the different county departments in spaces around town, Ann Johnsrud, county recorder, states that county leaders came up with the idea of erecting temporary offices at the McKenzie County Fairgrounds.
“Spreading the different offices around town was expensive and really not feasible,” states Johnsrud. “Moving to a temporary site at the fairgrounds keeps the county offices together, is much more cost-effective and solves the issue of parking.”
According to Johnsrud, all county offices, with the exception of the Clerk of Court and the Sheriff’s Department, will be moving to temporary offices at the fairgrounds until construction is completed.
The county has secured temporary structures from the Williams Scotsman Company in Williston, and with the help of Reservation Telephone Company and Montana-Dakota Utilities, will install electric and fiber-optic feeds to their new, temporary location, in the east corner of the big McKenzie County Fairgrounds parking lot.
“We will be in our temporary location a minimum of nine months up to one year,” states Johnsrud. “But, this will not affect fairground events. The McKenzie County Fair will still take place, as will the 2014 Centennial events.”
Svihovec also states that the county will pave a portion of the fairgrounds parking lot. Therefore, between the paving, fiber-optic and electrical feeds, the county intends to leave the portion of the fairgrounds they will occupy in better shape than before they arrived.
“We have to have the electric and fiber-optic feeds in order to do business,” states Svihovec. “But everything that is being installed, with the inclusion of the paved parking lot, will be able to be used after we leave in a year.”
According to Svihovec, construction cannot officially begin until the McKenzie County Commissioners approve the plan on Oct. 22. From that point, construction is expected to take 10 to 12 months.
The office of the County Treasurer, Auditor, Social Services, Motor Vehicle, Planning and Zoning, Recorder, Tax, and Engineer will be moving to temporary offices at the McKenzie County Fairgrounds. There is only one department that will not move to the fairgrounds, and that is the County Extension Office. They will instead occupy space in the Rural Water Building located behind the courthouse.
“In the new renovation plans, the NDSU Extension Office was going to move to the Rural Water Building anyway,” states Svihovec. “This way, they will only have to move once.”
Beginning Oct. 14, courthouse offices will begin the process of moving. Svihovec states that the move will take place between Oct. 14 to the end of the month and offices will, for the most part, be open during that time.
“Service could be limited during that time, but we will do what we can to accommodate the public,” states Svihovec. “We are totally not able to function without our computers, so when that move takes place, we will make sure to communicate with the public and let them know.”