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Board hears renovation proposal for courthouse

By Anna Jauhola
Kittson County Commissioners are getting closer to beginning the process of renovating the courthouse in Hallock. During a workshop meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23, the full commission met with two representatives from Johnson Controls to go through the bid for infrastructure upgrades to the aging building – plus possible renovations for the highway department.
The commission has been holding workshops over the last year or more, which are full meetings of the board but during which they cannot vote on any issue. These meetings are noticed on the courthouse’s bulletin board, which is outside the upstairs meeting room. They are open to the public.
Travis Pawloski, project manager, and Nick Thomes, account representative, both of Johnson Controls, presented the company’s proposal for the upgrades. This proposal included an estimate of $6,427,000 just for the upgrades within the courthouse building, which was completed in 1965.
“We knew the piping in the building was getting past its useful life,” Pawloski said. “It’s a two-pipe system. We plan on taking out every piece of pipe in the system that pertains to the HVAC system and replace that with four pipes.”
This portion of the project would solve the problem of several leaks JCI found when crawling through the tunnels.
“It’s shot,” Pawloski said of the piping system. “It’s not going to last much longer, so this is gonna have to be done. We’re on borrowed time with this project.”
There is some asbestos on the pipes as well, which will be taken out in one piece with the piping.
Other aspects to be done in the project include replacing all the induction units – there are 88 throughout the building – and fan coils. JCI will also install digital controls for the system to allow for better monitoring and control of the system, including remote monitoring through wireless internet. They will then complete a test and balance of the entire system, rather than retrofitting it, which costs more money. They will keep many components already in place, such as the air handling system and diffusers.
JCI also proposed new cooling units for the server rooms in the courthouse. The main server room on the upper level would need two units, while one unit each would be placed in the sheriff’s office server room and one in the federal offices server room.
“The fire alarm system is very antiquated,” Pawloski said. “So right now, if you have an issue, we don’t know if there’s a lot of parts readily available.”
“It seems to go off whenever,” said Commissioner Loren Younggren.
The project will also call for an overall lighting upgrade as well, which will include LED lighting and likely a good rebate from Otter Tail Power.
The electrical service in the building is original and beyond its lifespan, Pawloski said. The company that installed it, Federal, has been out of business for many years, which means parts are difficult to find, if not impossible. The project will call for all new electrical panels, but the current wiring is in good condition, Pawloski said.
The project includes replacing all the windows in the building with single pane windows, with the option of having openers like the current windows.
Finally, the project includes removing non-functioning boilers and other items from the former boiler room.
“The intent is to make this space cleared up so it’s usable in the future,” Thomes said.
The water heater in this space would be removed as well and a new commercial grade, high efficiency model will be placed in the penthouse.
This will be one of the first pieces of the project to be done, as departments are looking for more space.
The commission was also given alternate projects they could add on to the overall project, if they so choose. They include:
• fire alarm upgrades, roofing replacement, shop heating upgrades and overhead doors at the main highway department shop in Hallock;
• upgrades to the existing building at Northcote and to build a new highway out-shop at Northcote to replace the Humboldt shop; and
• rebuilding the out-shop in Kennedy.
These possible alternatives would cost over $1 million.
The commission did not make any decision on this proposal.
This week, they are scheduled to meet in another workshop to discuss bonding options for the project. The workshop is on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 9 a.m. in the upstairs meeting room.

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