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First phase of courthouse remodel to stretch into spring

Completion of Phase One of the Otter Tail County Courthouse remodeling project has been pushed back from Feb. 1 to April 15.

The extra time will allow contractors to deal with any unexpected issues that may arise from the building's old electrical, plumbing and other systems.

Remodeling includes second floor renovations for court administration and the addition of a new courtroom. County employees will have a secure judicial corridor and connection to the court functions on the third floor of the justice center. Enhancements also will allow for a secure holding area and access to the county jail.

Work also includes removing the existing floor and roof structure from the old sheriff's residence and original jail, near the railroad tracks. Reconstruction of floors and roofs will match adjacent floor levels. There will be a new dispatch center.

The first phase of the project totals $5.2 million.

Phase Two of county courthouse remodeling will focus on courthouse renovations, including exterior improvements and significant remodeling of the second and third floors. Architect David Shultz will review final bid documents for this phase with the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners at a later date.

In other county board news:

-Computer hardware and software upgrades totaling nearly $273,000 were approved for county law enforcement. Funds will come from the sheriff's office's capital improvement fund, 911 server fund and county IT department fund. The city of Fergus Falls is also contributing $125,000 to the project.

-A review of the Highway 235 project was conducted. The highway, between Parkers Prairie and Urbank, will be upgraded. Once the work is complete, the highway will be changed from State of Minnesota jurisdiction to ownership by Otter Tail County. State funding will be used for the project in succeeding months.