Construction talks

Much of Tuesday morning’s regular County Commission meeting centered around the progress of the Ward County office building currently being constructed on the corner of Third Street Southeast and the now-vacated section of Third Avenue Southeast.

This was the first meeting where architect Don Davison gave a monthly update, which were requested at the last county meeting.

One of the first topics was something that had bothered commissioner Shelly Weppler recently. When the commissioners signed on to the addition of a fourth floor over one section of the building, they weren’t aware it would come with a stairway eating through the three floors beneath it.

“It does take up some square footage,” Davison said in a phone interview.

Building codes require two points of egress from the floor. The standard stairwell servicing all floors will work well enough for one point, but now the architects must find a place to put the second fire-rated stairwell that will affect the working space of the other floors as little as possible.

Davison had wanted to just connect the fourth floor to the third and allow the use of the “monumental” stairwell in the atrium between the two building wings, but inspectors seem to have a different interpretation of code than he has and he will continue to work with them to come to a solution that will work for everybody.

As of now, the design for the second point of egress will go straight through the middle of the ground-floor library.

Weppler and other commissioners expressed discomfort that they signed off on a design that is now forcing changes on them that they were unaware of, and Davison responded that he didn’t think the fourth floor would offer this kind of response from those who enforce the code.

There were also three change orders that will cost a total of $33,596. That amount will be taken out of the contingency fund included in the contractor’s budget, leaving $16,000 in the fund. Those are to upgrade water protection building materials, remove a fuel tank that was discovered underground while excavating and excavating deeper under where the chiller pad to regulate water temperature will go as to better stabilize the pad with materials such as rock.

The fuel tank, Davison believes, may have been from years ago when houses and other small buildings were on that land. When they were removed the demolition crew may have missed a few things.

The jail issue

While Davison originally had requested early October as a “drop dead date” to really move forward on design and planning for construction of the Ward County Jail expansion, it is now mid-November and very little has actually changed since plans were unveiled last spring and one design option in particular chosen soon thereafter.

The problem, though, is that the design the commissioners chose actually butts into the parking lot owned by The Minot Daily News and land acquisition talks did not result in any deal.

At the meeting, Davison said that land acquisition delays are “beginning to affect the design schedule for the jail.”

County highway engineer Dana Larsen also made a presentation on the jail with office building project manager Glenn Moen on options for contracting and bidding out work on the jail when that time does arise.

Of particular note is an interest expressed by Adolfson & Peterson Construction, which has an office in Minneapolis, to become a construction manager at risk, one of several contracting schemes available to commissioners for the project. A “CM at risk” would be a contracting company involved from the beginning in a project that, at 60 percent of the design and planning finished, would give a “cost not to exceed” and then would be “at risk” to manage the work of construction to stay below that budget line.

That budget, though, would include a budget for contingencies.

Still, commissioners decided not to make a move on any of this until the project can move beyond land acquisition.