Flood emergency declared

Ward County Commissioners unanimously voted to approve a flood emergency declaration at a special meeting held Thursday morning at the Ward County Courthouse in Minot.

The measures that this will put in place, are contained in the County Emergency Operations Plan. Ward County Emergency Manager Amanda Schooling attended the meeting to state that she believes warm weather conditions put low-lying areas of the county at risk and that a passed declaration would set resources and funding availability to ward off negative actions.

Discussion was limited on the action at the meeting, which was followed up by continued discussion on the proposed fourth floor addition to the upcoming county office building.

The declaration cites

“Very high soil moisture content from precipitation received” from 2008 through 2012.

“Severe flooding is forecasted to occur due to record snow fall in Canada and the northern portion of Ward County.”

Existing snow will melt quickly as temperatures rise and cause overland flooding and that the Des Lacs and Souris River are forecast “to rise as early as April 26.”

That these events threaten the citizens of Ward County and that “measures must be taken immediately to protect public health and safety.”

Commissioner Jerome Gruenberg also declared that in addition to the county declaration, which will hold for all townships and cities within the county, the city of Burlington will be making its own declaration. Gruenberg is also the mayor of Burlington.

Ward County Office Building discussion

The commissioners also discussed the proposed fourth floor for the upcoming Ward County Office Building. The discussion was mainly on whether the preparations and infrastructure needed for a fourth-floor addition were included in the initial discussions and proposals. All commissioners and advisers Dana Larsen, the county engineer, and Roza Larson, the county State’s Attorney, all recollected that the needs for future expansion were included in original discussion.

Despite this, a letter from JLG Architects regarding the fourth floor addition says otherwise. The letter included four options. The first and second options illustrate the discrepancy in what the commissioners and the architectural firm believe the scope of the proposed project to be.

Option A represents what the firm believes the scope of the project to be. It includes only the three-story building with no additional services included and would represent no additional cost.

Option B represents what the commissioners feel is already within the scope of the proposed project: structural support for the fourth floor on the north building. (The office building will really be two separate buildings connected by a communal hallway in the current designs.) This option would represent an estimated $200,000 additional structure cost and $16,000 in additional professional services fees, as well as an additional two weeks to the design schedule.

Option C includes construction of a complete fourth floor to the north building. The estimated building costs for this would be just under $2.5 million, would cost an additional $195,000 in service fees and will add four weeks to design time.

Option D would include an exterior shell over the third floor as well as the “code-required build-out” for a fourth floor above the north building. This would cost just under $2 million in estimated additional building costs, just under $158,000 in additional service fees, and four weeks additional design time.

Commissioner Shelly Weppler motioned for bidding for option D, with the understanding,that all commissioners share, that option B was already a part of the initial proposal and should represent no additional fees. If JLG Architects disagree then additional talks will have to take place to figure out just exactly what the initial scope was to include. Commissioner Alan Walter seconded the motion.

All commissioners with the exception of Chairman Jack Nybakken voted for the motion and it was passed. Nybakken cited concerns that a completed design for a fourth floor was not what the commissioners had represented to the county and an additional $2 million would be far outside that representation. He was also concerned about delaying the bidding process any further, making the project drag on.