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Commissioners review jail plans

The Stevens County Board of Commissioners reviewed a schematic drawing and 3D model of the remodeled courthouse and new jail concept at a facilities work session last Tuesday.

Scott Fettig, President of Klein McCarthy Architects, and his colleagues met with Sheriff Randy Willis and others in the Sheriff's office to reassess the square footage estimates from previous drawings. By electing to leave large evidence storage and processing where it currently resides -- out at the Highway Building -- they were able to save more than 2000 square feet in the model. This space savings will be a significant cost-saving during construction.

Additionally, Fettig was able to design a jail that includes an emergency operations center that is smaller than the original estimates.

The drawing Fettig provided includes a new jail built behind the courts building and a remodel of the Fettig said the next steps would be to meet with officials from the City of Morris to talks about ordnances and variance restrictions on the site. The site is currently zoned residential, and there are questions about how far the new construction will need to be setback from the property lines.

"I think there is going to be cooperation between the city and the county on this," County Coordinator Jim Thoreen said.

Once the board commits to a plan of action, issues of phased building, parking restrictions, city permits, and aesthetic features all need to be decided.

"We've taken it about as far as we can go until the board decides what to do," Fettig said.

Larry Filippi, a representative from Contegrity Group, the construction management firm the board hired, said that particular challenges for this project include the need to gut and rebuild the mechanical and electrical systems, as well as deal with asbestos problems in the old building, Filippi explained. "There is so much to the project, a lot of components need to be taken into the type of construction and the timing," he said. "It's gonna be messy, it's gonna be inconvenient, and we need to figure out where people are going to go."

The Board's next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 22 in Olivia, Minn., where they will take a tour of the newly-built Renville County jail. Representatives from Klein McCarthy and Contegrity will also join the Board on the tour.

The facility in Renville County is not open yet, but "many of the jail concepts are the same, so the board will get to see them live," Thoreen explained.

Earlier this year, the commissioners set remodeling the courthouse, addressing jail needs and providing more space for the Public Health and Human Services Departments as its top faciltiies priorities.