Wadena County approves VerconCM for new annex

At the Aug. 23 board meeting, Wadena County Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the construction management contract with Vercon, that had been under discussion for several weeks. The vote was 4-0 because Commissioner Dave Hillukka abstained from voting on the contract, since his brother is employed by Vercon.

The discussion on Aug. 23 centered around confirming what the contract covered, what would happen if the bids came in too high for the county to afford, and what contingencies might occur during the construction process.

The “connecting link” alternate bid package was discussed, as commissioners tried to visualize how the covered walkway between the annex and courthouse would operate. A personal lift will be installed for wheelchair-bound and other mobility-impaired taxpayers who use the courthouse and annex, to assist them in moving between the two buildings that will be on different ground levels. The annex ground floor will be several feet higher than the courthouse ground floor, due to the location of sewer and water pipes that have to be installed in the ground beneath the building.

Commissioners and Vercon representative Justin Maaninga agreed that the county would provide Sentenced to Serve (STS) labor and some on-site supervision by county personnel for some of the general labor work. Maaninga offered about $45,000 worth of savings possibilities if STS and county personnel do that sort of work.

BHH Partners architect Chad Bormann helped move the discussion forward by explaining various aspects of the project and its requirements. Bormann strongly recommended that the county approve the CM contract because it would make the project run smoothly and save the county money and time.

The next step is for Vercon to meet with officials from the City of Wadena to obtain the necessary permits for the building, excavation, water and sewer work and parking variance. Commissioners and county staff are prepared to work with the city in any way they can to help get the project going as soon as possible.

Vercon’s fee for CM services will be 6.5 percent of the project hard costs.

As Maaninga said, “Fall is coming”, and everyone involved would like to get the building shell up before the ground freezes. Getting more space for county offices has been under discussion for more than 10 years. Now that it is about to happen, many of those involved are excited and relieved to see the $1.2 million project get under way.

  In other business, the board

o Approved the purchase of 1.0 bed at the West Central Regional Juvenile Center for 2017.

o Approved the 2017 contract with West Central Economic Development Alliance.

o Approved a low income septic replacement grant for a county resident.

o Approved a request from Parks Director Deana Malone to use funds from the parks reserve to construct new fencing at Knob Hill Campground and Tree Farm Landing, using STS labor.

o Approved a request from Elections Director Rosalie Miller to purchase one new voting machine before the November election.

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