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Patrick Springer, Published January 14 2010

Cass County Courthouse plans take shape

The three-story west addition to the Cass County Courthouse is taking shape on paper.

Cass County Building Committee members got their first look Wednesday at more detailed preliminary floor plans, which still are being refined as officials work with architects.

The project, with a budget of up to $14.7 million, could break ground in the summer, with completion hoped for by December 2011.

Plans envision a new, more spacious meeting room for the County Commission, equipped with a media room that would enable public-access cable television broadcasts.

Also, each of the five commissioners will have an individual office – which will help avoid the problem of inadvertent illegal public meetings anytime three or more commissioners find themselves in the same room.

“It’s kind of this round robin game that we play, and we’re good at it,” County Administrator Bonnie Johnson said, referring to the agreed-upon importance of complying with open meetings laws by avoiding an accidental quorum.

“We’ll be able to do business without a nose count,” she said. “I think that’s a really important feature here.”

The third floor will add two or three courtrooms, including more space for criminal arraignments, with security enhancements, including a secure elevator.

Among features in the preliminary designs discussed Wednesday by architect Dennis Kimme, of Champagne, Ill.:

Also Wednesday, State’s Attorney Birch Burdick told the committee he believed state law would allow the project to be divided into two bid packages to allow for expedited construction of the foundation and some structural components while other designs are being completed.

Once the committee concludes its work, the project will go before the County Commission, which must authorize the letting of bids.


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