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Friday, March 26th, 2010

Search starts for temporary office space

County workers will relocate during 18-month renovation

By Janie Southard
WAPAKONETA - Auglaize County commissioners are hunting temporary digs for county courthouse offices while renovations are made to the 1894-era structure. Relocation for the more than 35 workers is expected to be at least 18 months.
"We've looked at a few places including some we saw years ago when we first thought about this project. But at that time, we were thinking of renovating a floor at a time," Auglaize County Commissioner John Bergman told the newspaper this morning, adding on Monday they'll look at the Endless Endevors building in Cridersville.
The one floor idea seems less viable now, due to concerns of dust near sensitive equipment.
"So our plan now is to move everyone out so the they (workmen) can work during the day. The problem is that we're not yet clear on if we can legally move county offices away from the county seat. So, we're really in initial stages, although we've been at this a long time," Bergman said.
Prompting this new focus is the county's recent selection for a portion of the $15 million coming to Ohio through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. The local award of $1.3 million is the second-largest of the 28 grants given.
Auglaize will use the money for upgrades in lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, as well as a 20-kilowat solar electric system.
The county has $6 million in its permanent improvement fund. Even with the $1.3 million, Bergman predicts the county will be "a few dollars short" of the $8 million-plus price tag for the renovations. A civil lawsuit settled in 2007 with the city of St. Marys over a landfill dispute placed a $4.8 million burden on the county for a 30-year period beginning in 1998. The ruling caused the county to redirect money it had saved for the renovation.
"We should meet our (dollar) goal depending on the bids," Bergman said, adding the deadline on the courthouse project is July 2012. "It's doable. It won't take long for Garmann/Miller (Minster architects) to refresh the plans they created a few years ago, just some fine tuning, I would think."
The commissioner categorizes the selection of a temporary building a "jigsaw puzzle."
"A lot depends on how the building is configured. Sometimes you have a take a space you can't fully utilize, which is a big part of the challenge," he said.
Speaking only for himself, Bergman said he wants to make sure there are no strings in accepting the money that would tie the hands of any future officials. "I don't look for that to be an issue, but I'm not going to close my eyes to the possibility. Some municipalities have turned down the money because of the strings. I have no doubt we can meet the requirement for the grant dollars," he said.
Additional online story on this date
GRAND LAKE - A high school science fair project proving zebra mussels can lower toxins in Grand Lake by eating the algae that produces it has been selected for the International Science Fair in San Jose, Calif. [More]
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