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Patrick Springer, Published December 10 2009

Cass picks up pace on project

Designers are working at an accelerated pace to draft plans for a Cass County Courthouse addition, with the goal of breaking ground this spring.

Rick Hoganson, a consultant who is the project manager, told the Cass County Building Committee on Wednesday that breaking the project into two bid packages could save time and allow construction to move more quickly.

The $14.7 million project was delayed 60 to 90 days from the original schedule because of a series of topsy-turvy votes from a commission that was divided over whether voters should have the ultimate say.

“We’re on a timeline but also under a budget,” Commissioner Scott Wagner said.

Hoganson proposed first going to bids for the foundation and structural work, then following up with a second bid for a “completion package.” That would allow work to begin as design work was completed.

That would enable the 50,560-square-foot building to be enclosed for next winter, which would save on heating costs, Hoganson said. The building would have three stories, underground parking, and a skywalk connecting with the county annex.

County Administrator Bonnie Johnson asked whether splitting the project into separate bids would add to the cost. Architects said the bidding environment remains competitive.

It could be packaged as one bid project, however, if that is determined as the best way to proceed, Hoganson said.

Johnson will serve as coordinator for the county on the project, while District Judge Doug Herman will be the point person for the courts.

The committee will meet again Jan. 13, with the project expected to go before the County Commission in early February.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522