Lake County received the 2019 Special Project of the Year award from the Minnesota County Engineers Association for the Highway Facility Reconstruction project.

The Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25 was filled with architects, Kraus-Anderson construction team members, and Lake County highway facility and public works employees there to mark the occasion.

"This isn’t an award that our association gives out every year," said Don Thieson, of the Minnesota County Engineers Association. "It’s more that just once in a while there’s a project that just is so noteworthy that it deserves an award. "

The Lake County former highway facility was significantly damaged by a fire in December 2016. After settling with the county's insurer, the county chose to use the $1.7 million in damages to invest in a new facility, rather than attempt to repair the 60-year-old building. The new $9.1 million facility was completed in April 2019.

"I’ve personally been involved in building three different highway shops in three different counties," Thieson said. "But those were planned. So I can’t even imagine the hard work and the nightmares you had after a fire. To not just keep operating, but to turn around and do a whole new building of this quality when you weren't initially planning to is impressive. So hats off to you."

Highway engineer Krysten Foster credited those gathered for their extensive hard work and singled out Lake County facilities director Kevin Traster for his work on the project.

"He spent a lot of hours making sure this building was ready for the county," Foster said.

Traster said he was proud of the work done on the building.

"It was an unexpected tragedy that turned into a good deal for the county. We got our bang for our buck and turned a disaster into a beautiful building," Traster said.

Thieson presented the board with a large wooden plaque to commemorate the honor.