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Bond to fund new county highway maintenance facility

The Lake County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of general obligation capital improvement bond to build a new highway maintenance facility during its meeting Tuesday, June 26, in Two Harbors.

The $8.6 million, nearly 54,000-square-foot building will replace the old facility that was damaged by a fire in December 2016 and was demolished by the Lake County Highway Department in April.

The county purchased a bond for approximately $2.7 million with an interest rate of 3.49 percent, which will see the county repay more than $850,000 in interest over 15 years.

After more than a year of negotiation between the county and its insurer, Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT), there was a settlement for more than $1.7 million in damage to the building.

Instead of repairing the building, the county chose to invest the settlement in building a new facility instead of repairing a structure that was nearly 60 years old and no longer meeting the needs of the department. For example, operators were forced to remove trucks’ plows before entering the building.

Architectural firm CBS Squared Inc. presented a plan for a precast concrete building to be constructed on the site of the previous building. The precast concrete forms offer several benefits over traditional metal facilities, including a lifespan of 80 years and the walls are reusable if the county chooses to expand the building in the future.

In addition to $2.7 million in bond funding and the $1.7 million settlement with MCIT, the county will allocate $3.1 million of state aid construction funding to the project. The county reserved more than $1 million in state aid funding for projects already scheduled for 2018 and will move projects on its five- and 10-year construction plans back by one year.

The county plans to purchase another bond in 2019 to finance the remainder of construction; however, the final amount could fluctuate based on the results of the application or if there are unforeseen construction costs.

The county also applied for a $250,000 grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board to help fund the project, but the application wasn’t accepted.

The county hopes construction can begin later this summer or early in the fall.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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