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Heidi Shaffer, Published May 04 2010

Cass County Courthouse project moves forward

Plans for the Cass County Courthouse west addition moved forward Monday as commissioners discussed a few changes to sheriff’s deputy offices in the building and the project’s financing.

The commission approved a leased space for the city auditor’s office and sheriff’s office patrol unit.

Plans previously had the 14-officer unit on the second floor of the courthouse addition as a temporary measure, after which an arraignment courtroom would go into the space.

Now the courtroom will be built along with the rest of the addition and the officers will be housed, along with the county auditor’s office and storage, in a leased building a couple blocks from the Cass County Jail.

Sheriff Paul Laney told commissioners the new space will make it easier to respond to emergencies because of its proximity to the interstates and alleviate parking concerns while the courthouse is under construction.

The move will also help with security, a major reason for the addition in the first place, he said.

Commissioners Darrel Vanyo, Scott Wagner and Vern Bennett approved the measure.

Commissioners Robyn Sorum and Ken Pawluk voted against the leased space. Sorum said she felt this was another attempt at a law enforcement center, a measure that was originally shot down when the courthouse addition was proposed.

Laney said the proposed law enforcement center was about 30,000 square feet of space, while the new lease space would consist of 1,200 square feet for the deputies and 3,600 square feet for the auditor’s office.

The commissioners also voted 4-1 in favor of changing the wording of an ordinance for the project financing. The changes are meant to make the bonds more appealing to buyers by assuring the county’s backing in the event of a tax base decline.

Commissioners Vanyo, Wagner, Bennett and Pawluk voted in favor of the measure, while Sorum voted in opposition.

The county will start selling bonds in June for the project.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511