August 12, 2010

Courthouse options narrowed

By Cheryl Odden, BHG News Service

McLean County officials are one step closer to formulating wording for a ballot measure on how to address the courthouse issue. The goal is to place the question on the November General Election ballot. Architect Al Fitterer discussed several options for the future of the McLean County Courthouse at the county commission meeting Aug. 3. He presented three choices, including new construction. After hearing the choices and the cost of each, county officials speculate that a mill levy increase would be required. Fitterer’s options: Option 1 -- Renovation of the existing courthouse. Fitterer said he was taking the option of restoring the old courthouse "off the table." He said the option of renovation should be scrapped due to information from Brian Dihle, asbestos coordinator for the N.D. State Health Department, and from Jim Hickman of First District Health. The recommendations were based on possible asbestos contamination and contamination linked to histoplasmosis in the old structure. Fitterer said his stance was supported by viewing Web sites dealing with asbestos and histoplasmosis.  Fritterer said renovation could prove to be a liability to the county since "nobody" is willing to guarantee that the building would be completely safe for future occupation.

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