Baraga Cty. considering courthouse project

L’ANSE – The Baraga County Courthouse has had ongoing maintenance issues for a while, which were key factors in a debate two years ago about moving courthouse functions to the former Baraga County Memorial Hospital building. Voters shot down that move twice, and the county is now looking at another possible solution to address the deteriorating 134-year-old building.

“We have a lot of work to do around here,” Baraga County Clerk Wendy Goodreau said in a Daily Mining Gazette phone interview this morning. “You have to maintain buildings.”

On Monday, the Baraga County Board of Commissioners took one step closer to a large-scale project by approving a notice of intent to possibly enter into an energy-saving performance contract. Richard Williams from Honeywell presented for about 45 minutes to the board about what the contract would mean.

A performance contract means in part the energy savings from the project ($2,408,660 in the case of the Baraga County Courthouse) would exceed the costs into the project ($1,774,116), which could mean a savings of $634,544, according to projections from Honeywell.

Potential upgrades include lighting, windows, temperature control systems, water conservation measures, demolition (in the case of the annex building, which is now basically storage) and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

“There were lots of questions, lots of information, and the board did move for a notice of intent to move forward in this project to receive comments,” Goodreau said. “It’s doesn’t mean they are going to move forward with it, just that it’s a notice of intent that we’re possibly going to be looking at doing it.”

Goodreau said that many of the maintenance issues now are being handled on a case-by-case basis, which, according to her and the board, isn’t what’s necessarily best for the building or the budget.

“We have a building we need to deal with, a boiler that could go on us at anytime. There are a lot of issues in (the courthouse) building alone,” she said. “What this would do is allow the board to take a proactive approach to maintaining current buildings. When you take a proactive approach, you save yourselves money and handle things in a more efficient manner.”

The notice of intent will be in effect for at least 45 days before the board could consider any motion to actually undertake the project.

In other business Monday, the board:

approved the 2013-18 Hazard Mitigation Plan for Baraga County, as prepared by the Western Upper Peninsula Development Region. A public hearing was held prior to the meeting, with no comments offered.

approved bids for plowing (KCO Construction, $40/$40/$25 for courthouse/sheriff’s/administration buildings), public defender (David Gemignani, $27,000 split through district and circuit courts) and liability insurance (Hannula Agency, $36,568).

allocated $3,000 in the upcoming budget for the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team.

appointed Jim Dougovito to the Department of Human Services board.

signed a lien agreement through a housing rehabilitation grant for Lorna Hakola, for $16,470.

approved to advertise to receive bids for an old patrol car.