Construction should begin this fall on a new county office building in Minot.
A divided Ward County Commission voted today to approve spending more than 16-and-a-half million dollars on the
new building that will be attached to the existing county courthouse via a skywalk.
Bids from Mattson Construction, Mowbray & Sons, and Wheeler Contracting were accepted by the commission.
But the vote to move ahead with the project came only after some spirited discussion among commissioners about what should be included.
The bidding process included a dozen options...the largest being the addition of a fourth floor to the building that was originally proposed as three stories.
Commissioners sparred over the need for a fully-finished fourth floor at a cost of about 700-thousand dollars.
A fourth floor would allow the county library to be moved into the new building, allowing the current library building to be torn down for parking space - and that caused the biggest stir.
(John Fjeldahl, Ward County Commissioner) "If we're going to move the library anyplace, which has been discussed, we're not going to do it any cheaper than this. That's a reality. I don't care where you put it, you're not going to do it cheaper than this."
(Jack Nybakken, Ward County Commissioner) "I cannot see making this kind of investment or commitment. We need to go ahead with the project that was presented to the public before the election."
(Alan Walter, Ward County Commissioner) "Based on all these discussions, I'll vote yes."
It was that vote - a "yes" vote by Alan Walter - that tipped the scales in favor of building a finished fourth floor on a 3-to-2 vote.
Walter said he still wants to discuss whether the library is moved into the new building or perhaps to a different location.