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A new county office building is under construction in Minot - right across the street from the existing courthouse.

And when the new building is open, it will allow for some major renovation of the courthouse and jail to use the space vacated by departments moving to the new space.

Today, Ward County commissioners debated what to do in the 10-and-a-half million dollar jail remodeling project.

They are considering hiring what's called a "project manager at risk," as opposed to simply selecting low bids from general contractors.

The "project manager at risk" would charge a percentage fee in exchange for managing the entire project, monitoring costs and providing a maximum project cost.

County Engineer Dana Larsen says one company interviewed for the position is in a unique spot to do the job - because it specializes in jail construction.

(Dana Larsen, Ward Co. Engineer) "Her expertise would be used a lot during the design-development phase of this project. What stood out for me personally is the fact of their involvement when the architects are working on design they would be looking on the contractor side of how that would work and how it would affect costs."

Commissioner Jerome Gruenberg said he opposes the "project manager at risk" system because he believes it simply adds another layer of costs to the project.

(Jerome Gruenberg, Ward Co. Commissioner) "They're going to figure everything they can figure to add a percentage on, including their wages and their transportation...I mean, they..."

The commission decided to wait until its next meeting to decide which route to follow in the jail remodeling project.

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