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Patrick Springer, Published March 11 2010

Panel gets preview of Cass County Courthouse addition

A committee planning the west addition to the Cass County Courthouse on Wednesday caught the first glimpse of design concepts that seek to balance the old and the new.

Prominent exterior features of the $14.7 million addition include a skywalk connecting the courthouse to the county annex and a south façade that will be one of the dominant elements.

The Cass County Building Committee reviewed the options, which likely will be presented to the Cass County Commission on April 5.

Architects presented design concepts in still renderings and animated “fly-around” views.

One option has features that would mimic the original courthouse bell tower, while another has more modern lines.

Several options incorporate long vertical windows reminiscent of the old courthouse jail, demolished several years ago because of structural problems.

A possible perimeter fence would use brownstone bricks salvaged from the old jail and sheriff’s residence.

Also Wednesday, building committee members agreed they must decide on the level of security monitoring they would like for the addition, and whether to extend the same features into the existing courthouse.

“I think it has to come from the board in terms of security philosophy,” said County Administrator Bonnie Johnson.

County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said privacy of voters should be kept in mind in placing security cameras.

Rick Hoganson, an architect working on the project, said structural drawings for the project are nearly complete and could be ready to be bid around the third week of April.

The target completion date for the three-story project, which also includes underground staff parking, is December 2011.

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