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City to ask county for free demolition debris disposal for elementary school project

The former Morris Area Elementary School.

The City of Morris and Stevens County will try and come to an agreement on handling demolition debris when the elementary school is torn down.

The county Board of Commissioners will discuss a letter from Morris Mayor Sheldon Giese at its regular board meeting on Tuesday.

In the letter, Giese requests that the county allow the city to dispose of the school debris in the county-owned landfill at no cost. The city would pay state-mandated fees.

Giese said the demolition costs, with disposal, are estimated at about $800,000. The city had wanted to find a way to reuse at least part of the building, but "Sadly, we found no use for the building and it will need to be demolished," Giese stated in the letter.

In other county business from this week:

• The county board is expected to start construction on its courthouse renovation and law enforcement center project by October.

The footings, foundations, walls and roof will be in one bid package and interior work will be in another. Interior work is expected to begin in December.

County offices will be moved to another location for about a year while construction is in progress. Two possible sites are City Center Mall and an office suite formerly occupied by Greenway Consulting.

The Stevens County District Court will remain in the building, but will need to be moved for about two months when heating and electrical work is done, said County Coordinator Jim Thoreen.

Courts and the county board could meet in Morris City Council chambers during the construction phase.

The county also received a letter from the Minnesota Department of Corrections stating that the county's proposed use of holding rooms in the new facility would not constitute categorizing them as holding cells and would not be under DOC jurisdiction, Thoreen said.

• The board passed a resolution freezing pay for non-union county employees for 2010.

AFSCME, which represents some county employees, also notified the board that it would not seek an increase of health benefits for 2010. Currently, the benefit is $750 per month per full-time employee.

Thoreen said negotiations with the Law Enforcement Labor Services are on-going but have not produced a final result.