Clay County board hears update on Phase 2 of jail project

Bryce Haugen

Despite the frigid winter weather, work is proceeding on Phase 2 of the Clay County Jail project and it is on track to be ready for inmates by October.
Nick Fiecke, project manager for Construction Engineers, presented an overview of the completed Law Enforcement Center and Phase 1 jail project and offered a timeline for the ongoing Phase 2 of construction to the Clay County board of commissioners at their meeting Tuesday at the courthouse.
Contractors grappled with a few challenges during the LEC and Phase 1 construction process, including site logistics on a limited footprint, the proximity from Robert Asp School, winter weather and unforeseen underground obstacles (a couple 7,500 gallon fuel tanks).
“It took a lot of coordination with the county and the subcontractors to make sure that worked out for everybody,” Fiecke said.
The groundbreaking for the projects occurred in May of 2017. Construction on the Phase 1 building shell was completed by Dec. 8, 2017 and the LEC building shell was finished by Jan. 25, 2018.
The certificate of occupancy for the LEC was issued July 20, 2018 and the building opened to the public on Aug. 1 following 15 months of construction. The certificate of occupancy for Phase 1 of the jail was issued on Sept. 25, 2018 and inmates were transferred to the facility about a month later after 17 months of construction.
“It turned out to be a really nice facility,” Fiecke said.
Both projects came in under budget. None of the $250,000 owner contingency was spent and only $175,000 of a $250,000 contractor’s contingency was tapped.
That left nearly a $330,000 surplus for the projects.
“That helps support our financial picture very nicely,” Commissioner Kevin Campbell said.
It doesn’t get much better than on time and under budget, said Commissioner Grant Weyland.
Commissioner Jenny Mongeau thanked Fiecke for his diligence with county funds.
“I know it’s a challenging time to do a construction project,” she said.
Phase 2 of the jail is proceeding throughout the winter. Construction began on Oct. 24, beginning with the demolition of the old jail, which took about two months.
The building shell is projected to be complete by April, with construction scheduled to wrap up this fall, with the county being able to utilize the facility by October.

Assessor’s update
Clay County Assessor Nancy Gunderson delivered her annual update to the county board later in the meeting.
Her staff completed assessments of 3,700 parcels throughout the county in the past year.
“I think they did a really super job,” Gunderson said. “I’d like to thank my staff for the outstanding job they did this year.”
This coming year, she said, they have assessments of another 4,000 parcels on the agenda.
“They will be busy,” Gunderson said.
Since Clay County is one of the fastest growing in the state, she said, the office may need to add another appraiser to the staff.
Her office issued 350 new building permits valued at $37 million and also followed up on existing permits for projects that are currently under construction.
The assessor’s office is currently reviewing valuations for the 2019 assessment season.
Agricultural land values should be relatively flat, Gunderson said.
Some communities will see an increase because of sales of homes driving up values. Affected jurisdictions include Elkton and Parke townships and the cities of Barnesville, Hawley and Ulen.
Commissioners set June 18 as the date for the county board meeting of appeal and equalization, when residents can appeal their valuations and classifications.

In other business, the county board:
Approved a request from Julie Savat, Correctional Facility Director to fill vacancies for three additional correctional officers.
Signed off on a request from Georgia Beaudry, the Family Service Center building manager, to add a full-time custodian.

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