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Regionalization of court system: could it affect county's space reallocation?

A possible regionalization of the state's district court system may be a decade down the road, but Hubbard County commissioners would like to see into the crystal ball a bit sooner than that.

"The trend we're looking at in the court system is cities and regionalization," said Hubbard County commissioner Greg Larson, the former county attorney. He tracks court developments closely.

"The plan I've heard would have Hubbard County as a regional center," Larson said. "We'd probably pair with Cass" County.

Hubbard County's space reallocation plan is predicated on moving the courts into the second floor of the Law Enforcement Center next door to the existing county office building.

But the courts have resisted the move, contending officials cannot determine from the bare floor plans in the space study whether the move provides enough room or security.

Last week, commissioner Cal Johannsen reported back to the board on his meeting with the space study architect and Judge Robert Tiffany.

"They want something drawn out that's real," Johannsen said. "They want more than we hired the architects to do."

Commissioners questioned whether they should spend thousands more dollars to hire someone to draw up a detailed floor plan.

"We had said until the court was on board there's pretty much no point in going forward," Johannsen said.

Larson suggested planning for a future regionalization.

"Is it real or just talk?" Johannsen asked.

"It would be nice to get some inkling of what the state will do but that could be 10 years down the road," board chair Lyle Robinson said.

But the commission said time is of the essence.

"Social Services is literally working out of the hallway upstairs," Larson said.

Commissioners scrapped the initial plan that would have cost $10 million, moving many county offices around and constructing a new two-story building.

Instead, they've settled on a scaled down version that would move the courts and relocate Social Services to the county office building's main floor, where the courts are located now.

Court personnel have been reluctant to commit to the move, contending it may not serve their future needs.

A St. Louis Park architectural firm was retained to conduct the space study last year at a cost of $16,800. Architects formulated a plan after extensive interviews with county employees, including the court personnel.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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