The Dunn County Courthouse in Manning, ND erupted last Wednesday, August 2, with a plethora of emotions, when the Board of Commissioners unveiled their plans to undergo a new construction project involving the existing courthouse as well as the Social Services office that is currently located in Killdeer.
By Bryan Katz
At 9:00 A.M. on Wednesday, a meeting took place in regards to the construction. A bid to rebuild the courthouse was put in place on June 29th and was presented to the board on July 10, 2017. The entire Board of Commissioners accepted the business plea on July 12, accepting a maximum spending budget of $14.5 million.
Other matters that were discussed on Wednesday concerning the new construction included the mobilization of a job trailer, fencing and utility relocation to be performed the week of August 22, while the real construction is said to begin the week following Labor Day weekend, which will include demolition of parts of the existing courthouse.
During that same meeting, the Board of Commissioners moved to approve and proceed with the installation of new security cameras to the entire premises.
There will be two significant phases of construction, as well as a few minor phases. Through all of this, Owen St. is said to remain open and accessible.
In one major phase, structural work will need to be completed from the inside of the existing building; including reinforcements to the roof to be able to create a two-story structure which may disrupt meetings momentarily. The structural work is said to take place this fall, which will leave the Board plenty of time for additional planning.
Another meeting was then taken place at 11:45 A.M., in which many citizens of Dunn County had made an appearance and raised their opinions and concerns regarding the taxation that comes along with such a major decision. One concern, was that there had been a lack of communication and public notices or election for the meeting that approved this major operation. Another concern, of course, was the relocation of the Social Services office from Killdeer to Manning in an effort to put everybody under one roof as a unified service to the community.
Commissioners Bob Kleeman, Daryl Dukart and Reinhardt Hauck did their best to answer every comment and acknowledge the concerns of the citizens.
In a meeting Friday morning with Commissioners Daryl Dukart and Craig Pelton, as well as Lisa Gunther of the Building Committee, unanswered questions regarding the relocation of the Dunn County Social Services office were answered, as well as concerns of the funding for the new courthouse in Manning.
Starting out, Commissioner Dukart initially stated, “The commissioners are not one-hundred percent responsible for the lack of communication.” and proceeded to tell the Dunn County Herald that this project has been talked about regularly for the past four years.
In 2010, an addition to the courthouse was made, and soon after, became too small. Commissioner Craig Pelton ensured that there will now be appropriate space to accommodate Social Services, the County Nurse, the Extension office, the States Attorney and the Dunn County JDA. Moving these services to Manning will eliminate leasing costs as well as exceedingly high maintenance costs for the existing Social Services building.
Lisa Gunther stated, “the layout of the new structure was really well thought out,” adding that, “there will be more organization and better flow of the office.”
Funding of the new courthouse was also discussed, as many citizens at the meeting on Wednesday August 2 had ample concern that funding for this project would be taken right out of the taxpayers’ pocket. Commissioner Dukart explained that the courthouse will be payed via Federal Mineral Royalties that Dunn County possesses and reaps roughly $4.5-6.7 million per year. These royalties are only to be spent on building improvements, and the courthouse certainly falls into that category.
In a closing statement, Lisa Gunther explained that, “the Commissioners are very accessible and willing to speak with anybody and answer any questions.” And Commissioner Dukart finished by stating, “The long-term goal is to create a networking channel that’s been broken in this county. This project will lead to economic development and growth to the community.”