Commissioners vote to fix courthouse mold problems

The old Hubbard County courthouse has become a repository for more than historical artifacts - it's collecting mold at a frightening pace. Chronic moisture problems caused by runoff from the roof has caused the lower levels of the historic buildi...

Mold problems have plagued the historic courthouse building, caused by runoff from the roof. The building will undergo preventive measures this summer that will place waterproof insulation on the foundation and install a roof diversion system on the building corners to draw moisture away from the structure. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

The old Hubbard County courthouse has become a repository for more than historical artifacts - it's collecting mold at a frightening pace.

Chronic moisture problems caused by runoff from the roof has caused the lower levels of the historic building to store condensation that dehumidifiers can't dissipate. Rain overshoots the gutters, collects on the ground and seeps through the basement walls.

Wednesday the Hubbard County board voted to fix the structure, when board members and staff of the Hubbard County Historical Society expressed concerns about moisture infiltration.

A metal door is covered with rust and mold, said director Karen Danks.

"It's one of the nicest old buildings left in Park Rapids and I'd hate to see something happen to it," said Hubbard County commissioner Dick Devine.


An architect for the Minnesota Historical Society visited the building last summer and made recommendations for fixing the moisture problems.

Commissioners will put the project out for bids. It will entail trenching around the foundation, placing waterproof foam insulation around the bottom 6 feet of the building and sloping the grade away from the building once the dirt has been replaced.

Commissioners suggested going further.

"If you don't get that water diverted off the roof properly you can do all you want down below and it's all for naught," said commissioner Don Carlson.

A roof diversion system will be added to the project specifications. The Historical Society said preliminary cost estimates could run $3,000 without the work on the roof.

Because the county is the owner and landlord of the building, which also houses the North Country Museum of Art, tax monies will be used for the repairs. Commissioners said the county building fund had ample funds available.

In other county business, the board:

-Learned that the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department has amassed a considerable amount of overtime this winter on two events. Chief Deputy Frank Homer said six deputies were assigned to the community fishing derby on Fish Hook Lake Feb. 7, which cost the county 38 hours of overtime. A domestic incident early Feb. 14, in which the SWAT team was called in to a rural Nevis residence, took 19 hours of overtime to resolve, Homer said. It resulted in the arrest of Joseph Stish, 43, of Hackensack, who now faces domestic assault charges.


-Took no action on a courthouse security proposal, estimated around $11,000, until more bids have been received. Commissioners are still concerned about having the personnel to monitor an extra viewing screen in the dispatch area, burdening the staff there. Courthouse bailiffs might also be given monitoring duties. And commissioners voiced concerns about audio recordings. One area that would get a security camera is the boardroom. Commissioners often conduct closed door hearings.

-Heard that Paul Bunyan Telephone, which is entering the competitive local telephone market, will conduct a free phone analysis for the county. The commission at its last meeting, signed several contracts with Arvig Communication Systems to provide phone service for the next three to five years on three contracts.

-Discussed a wood pellet company that is interested in locating to Park Rapids, and will meet with local officials next week to look over the city. The company makes pellets out of wood waste, for burning in wood stoves.

-Approved the purchase of shelving units for the jail, evidence room and sheriff's department at a cost of $7,464.18.

-Approved a bid of $1.4 million on a road project for CSAH 19 and Cass County CSAH 40. The winning bidder was Central Specialties of Alexandria, which constructed the newly built Highway 34 through Park Rapids. Hubbard County's share of the project is $751,551.50.

Hubbard County Engineer Dave Olsonawski also discussed two upcoming bridge projects, one to be built with federal stimulus money on County Road 9 near the Blue Moon Saloon, and the second replacing the bridge near Zorbaz on County Road 7.

"We're going to have a busy summer," he told the board.

-Learned that the average daily inmate count of the detention center in 2008 was 36.83 inmates. To date in 2009, that number has increased slightly to 41 inmates. Jail boarding rates dropped to $46 daily from $55 a day effective March 1.


-Approved amendments to the Shoreland Management Ordinance. One change allows owners of nonconforming lots to acquire more area without going through the variance process, as long as the added area is conforming. The second amendment concerns fence regulations. Both ordinances have been posted on the county's Web site, and neither drew public comments or criticism.

Authorized the discontinuation of the mobile hazardous waste collection due to the costs involved, and the fact that hazardous waste products can be left anytime at both transfer stations.

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