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By Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications Co., Published April 07 2010

Traill building vote set for June

HILLSBORO, N.D. – Traill County voters will decide in June – for the third time since 2008 – whether the county should build an addition to the county courthouse.

Only this time, it may not cost local property owners any money, because federal economic stimulus funds are available to cover the proposed $2.16 million bond issue.

The measure will be included on a separate special election ballot during the June 8 primary election, which the Traill County Commission approved Tuesday.

“If taxpayers go along with this, they can use the stimulus money to pay for it,” County Auditor Becca Braaten said.

The new proposal is a scaled-down version of the $7 million bond issue that voters rejected twice in 2008.

The 13,150-square-foot addition would provide space for Traill County Social Services, which now shares an overcrowded 1954 courthouse addition with the county Sheriff’s Department, E-911 Center and the county jail.

The new proposal would not provide space for a new jail. The jail will remain in a 1954 building addition that has faced safety code and security risks over the years. It has no insulation and is not wired for computers.

However, the County Board has plans for remodeling the 1954 addition and the old jail.

The county is proceeding with a separate remodeling project for that building.

Phase One of that project totals about $310,000, including a $74,000 federal energy grant to replace the building’s roof, exterior walls and interior lighting. The county’s building fund now has the $236,000 local share, which is required to obtain the federal grant.

Phase Two, which would be done at a later time, would include remodeling the 1954 addition to address security, code and space issues.

If voters approve the bond issue in June, construction of the courthouse addition is likely to begin in 2011.

Kevin Bonham is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.