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Room for improvement

By Staff | Jun 21, 2015

After considerable time and energy was spent on evaluations of the courthouse and other county buildings, the Faribault County Commissioners are ready to move forward.

The County Board passed a resolution at their meeting last Tuesday night, allowing the county to proceed with I&S?Group, Inc., to prepare bid documents for the safety and security projects.

According to Central Services director Dawn Fellows the scope of work has been defined and includes; tuck point/tower restoration, safety and security enhancements, courthouse department needs, relocation of courthouse departments to AgCenter, remodel of AgCenter space and lower level annex building updates.

The County Board had originally explored the idea of using the MVAC building on Main Street to relocate some of their offices, but eventually the idea to utilize the AgCenter was brought forward.

“I met with Blue Earth city administrator Tim Ibisch to see where they are at with the lease,” Fellows added. “We will hammer those details out and bring them back to the next board meeting.

A work session was recently held to discuss some of the improvements in the various buildings.

“We didn’t see the need for a lot of improvements in the annex,” commissioner Bill Groskreutz said. “The disabled access for the bathroom, that’s something we should be a leader on. I think we need to be proactive on this.”

The board approved the resolution and agreed to move forward working with I&S. They also set a date for a buildings and grounds committee meeting to discuss more of the details about the project.

County Auditor/Treasurer/Coordinator John Thompson added that if the county is going to bond for this work, they will want to do that soon.

“We would want to issue bonds as soon as we can while the interest rates are still low,” he said.

The County Board also returned to an issue that affects the buildings and grounds around the county offices.

At their last meeting held earlier this month, the board discussed how to address smoking in the personnel policy.

They had previously discussed the idea of creating designated smoking areas around the various county buildings. But commissioners agreed that Fellows and county attorney Troy Timmerman should look at the Clean Air Act and rewrite the county policy to reflect that.

After some consideration, the wording in the policy was added to restrict employees’ smoking or tobacco use to, “a private, enclosed vehicle parked in the parking lot(s).”

“This policy is just in regards to our employees,”?Groskreutz said.

Fellows added that the county could look into using Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grants to create a policy for the public.

“Then we could use dollars from SHIP?for signage around the county campuses,” Fellows said.

The commissioners approved the smoking policy which was the last update needed to complete the county’s personnel policy.

“This was the last of the policy to be updated that has been a two-year process,”?Fellows said.