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Hancock County supervisors look to tackle large improvement projects

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Hancock County Supervisors

From left, Hancock County supervisors Jerry Tlach, Gary Rayhons, and Sis Greiman.

Hancock County supervisors decided to lump several large county projects together for notice and public hearing at their Nov. 22 meeting.

Working with John Danos of Dorsey & Whitney and Maggie Burger of Speer Financial on bonding for the projects, supervisors agreed to proceed as soon as possible with the public hearing process for a total of $2.325 million on three projects. Those include $125,000 for roof repairs at the courthouse, $600,000 for an east side courthouse vestibule, and $1.6 million for a new county communications tower.

There will be one public hearing for the three projects, but the date and time was not yet established. Emergency response coordinator Andy Buffington reminded supervisors that county officials have until Dec. 16 to decide on the option for a new county tower with Motorola and to make a 25 percent down payment.

The new tower would eliminate some dead spots for primary radio communications in the county. It would be constructed over 18-24 months on the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 18 and Oak Avenue (just east of Duncan).

“You can pay that from federal funds and other sources of revenue and pay it back,” Burger said. “As long as we get the process started as soon as possible, there should be no issues.”

Danos was directed to prepare a resolution that will need to be reviewed and approved by supervisors. The current funding path for two larger county projects, for repair of exterior courthouse walls and updating the courthouse and law enforcement center HVAC, remain undecided.

A Modus engineering consulting company representative discussed the aging HVAC needs and options with supervisors. There has been moisture buildup and clogging issues with fan coils in the courthouse system. Maintenance supervisor Kevin Hoeft said it has been working better since starting to run the heat, but that the issues will need to be addressed.

“We all know that in the next five years, if we don’t do something, it is going to get worse,” Hoeft said. He and county attorney Blake Norman estimated that $60,000 to $100,000 has already been spent on system repairs and maintenance.

The Modus representative presented a variable refrigerant flow option, for which Sheriff Rob Gerdes and LEC staff have voiced favorable consensus, according to Norman. An overall $1.9 million “combination” option would be less intrusive to install in the LEC. However, it would not necessarily be financially feasible for creating one standard system for both buildings (and the building link in between them), possibly costing an additional $800,000 to update the courthouse in the same manner.

The buildings currently have two distinctly different mechanical systems. One recommendation from the Modus representative is for a shared system with backup boiler/chiller(s) in a traditional system with hydronic fan coils, but a combination system could also be maintained. Norman said that American Rescue Plan Act funding could possibly pay for all LEC and some courthouse ventilation improvements.

Supervisors agreed to hold a workshop meeting on Dec. 1 to discuss larger budget options, including the HVAC options, with OPN Architects consulting representation available to discuss county projects that OPN is overseeing. Modus will participate in that meeting as well.

Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at rob.hillesland@globegazette.com.

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