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Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service, Published July 04 2013

Griggs County commissioners face recall election

A recall election for all five Griggs County commissioners will be Oct. 8.

The county auditor’s office posted the election notice in the courthouse Wednesday.

The recall campaign was launched this spring, after county officials decided to proceed with building a $3.5 million courthouse and emergency operations center despite voters rejecting three different building proposals in separate elections over the past two years.

Current commissioners are: Ron Halvorson, District 1; Ronnie Edland, District 2; Dennis Halvorson, District 3; Keith Monson, District 4; and Robert Johnson, District 5.

State law says a current officeholder automatically is placed on the ballot unless he or she resigns from office within 10 days of the date that the recall petition is certified as valid.

Other candidates who wish to be placed on the ballot must file nominating papers within 60 days of the election, which would be on or about Aug. 9. However, no one from the county auditor’s office was available Wednesday afternoon to confirm that deadline.

John Wakefield, one of the petition leaders, has indicated he will be a candidate for the District 1 seat. He also said other potential candidates have come forward in each of the districts.

Construction has begun on the new courthouse and emergency operations center in Cooperstown, N.D., the Griggs County seat with a population of about 960.

The one-story facility is being built just to the south of the existing building, which is the oldest county courthouse in North Dakota that still in its original use. Built in 1884 for about $30,000, the three-story building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

However, the old building has serious health, accessibility and structural issues, which county officials argue are too costly to justify.

The county social services and sheriff’s department were forced to move out of the building in 2011 because of mold that was found on the bottom floor. Since then, mold has been found elsewhere in the building.

Project opponents have claimed the mold problems have been exaggerated.

Call Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1110; or send email to kbonham@gfherald.com.