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County space study will suggest changes to boardroom

Architects studying the space needs of Hubbard County buildings have issued some preliminary, but predictable findings. The county's Social Services department and court personnel need more space.

But the most frequent complaint is the boardroom, which is center stage for much of the governmental actions that take place in Park Rapids and Hubbard County.

"The space is adequate," said architect Bruce Schwartzman of Klein McCarthy Architects of St. Louis Park. "It works well generally" aside from some technological concerns most departments have.

But it's the hub of the building, here most of the activity is conducted, that the architects have honed in on.

"It's a lousy boardroom, period," said Hubbard County commission board chair Lyle Robinson. "People can't see or hear. We wonder at all the hearings why people are standing up in the back. It's because they can't see who's talking."

Architects have suggested raising the area where various board sit, a small dais or elevated platform.

"There's a fine line between creating a judicial presence," Schwartzman said. "You don't want to create the perception you're lofty" by sitting at such an elevation and look down on people.

He said creating more space for the offices that need it "is some what of a shall game" since the county can't afford to add on to its space presently. One department would take space at the expense of another.

And renovations must be simple since the county can't afford to move everyone out at the same time to knock down a wall or two.

A final report will be about six weeks away, giving the county five options to pursue.

In other business, the board:

-Agreed to pay the six-month share of Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission's funding one month early.

Auditor Pam Heeren said the county can't make the payment by June 1, but could come up with the $15,000 by June 5. The county and city each contribute $30,000 to the Commission's annual funding. Private donations make up the rest, but have fallen short in the recession.

"They're having some financial flow problems," commissioner Cal Johannsen said. "I hate to get into a deal to pay everyone early but if we can pay it by the fifth and help him out, that's OK."

Robinson questioned whether the board was edging down a slippery slope.

"If we do it for one, we have to do it for all," he said. The board agreed to dispense the funds June 5.

-Approved several bids for summer road projects and briefly discussed the proposed replacement of the bridge on County Road 7 near Zorbaz Mexican & Pizza Joint.

The bridge work, slated for later this summer, is expected to take 70 work days.

The board awarded another bridge replacement project, paid mainly for with federal stimulus funds, was awarded to Gerit Hanson Construction of Blackduck for $428,238.05.

Mark Sand & Gravel of Fergus Falls received the bid for an overlay project within Itasca State Park for $253,253.75. A striping contract went to AAA Striping of St, Michael.

For more county board news, see Wednesday's Park Rapids Enterprise.