Gruenberg elected new commission chairman

At a regular meeting Tuesday morning, Ward County commissioners elected Jerome Gruenberg as the new chairman, replacing commissioner Jack Nybakken. Commissioner Alan Walter was elected vice chairman, replacing Gruenberg.

This is Gruenberg’s fourth term as chairman.

Walter, who had missed a few recent commission meetings due to illness, was back and reported during a recess in the meeting that he felt that he was “back on his feet” and ready for the work.

Construction projects

With construction on the upcoming Ward County office building across the street from the courthouse already well under way with much excavation completed and certain concrete walls already poured, commissioners and others involved in the project continue to discuss having a camera mounted to take pictures from now until finish.

The object, in county engineer Dana Larsen’s vision, would be to have a camera mounted somewhere in the area to take a still shot at regular intervals anything from every 30 seconds to 30 minutes have been discussed at this and other meetings to be uploaded to the county website ( and eventually assembled into a time-lapse movie of the construction project.

A camera system suggested by Glenn Moen, the construction project manager and employee of contractor Mattson Construction, would run the county about $8,000 if selected. Other ideas, prominently suggested by Sheriff Steve Kukowski and Walter, would be to have a system that would be more used for security of the area and perhaps tied into a new security system the sheriff’s department will be getting through a Department Homeland Security grant for $6,742.50, which will be added to the county’s contribution of $2,247.50.

The system, the grant document said, is to “prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other catastrophic events.”

But the building project most on the minds of the commissioners now is the jail expansion program. Out of three design options presented to them back in February, the one they chose was “Option 3,” which would add 56 new cells with the ability to expand into an additional 56 cells if needed. It was also the design with the largest footprint and the one that would enter property the county did not own.

The commissioners, though, are moving forward and discussed the option for a “construction manager at risk,” or CMAR. The idea had been brought up at recent meetings and commissioner Jerome Gruenberg was the commissioner most opposed to the idea.

A CMAR would oversee the project from design to completion and would present a “cost not to exceed” budget to the commissioners at 60 percent of the design work done, but with a preference for stating the budget at 70 percent. The CMAR would then be responsible for contracting work on the project to stay under budget, dipping perhaps into a contingency fund packaged into the budget.

Of three firms interviewed by a committee formed Sept. 17, Adolfson & Peterson Construction, a firm with its nearest office in Minneapolis, was the clear winner based on an eight-criterion grading scale. The firm came in at 86 out of 100 points, with Graham Construction Services, Inc., second at 77 points and Construction Engineers, Ltd., third at 69 points.

The commissioners did not decide on whether they wanted to hire a CMAR on the project, rather than the more traditional option of bidding out for a general contractor or bidding a prime, and decided to table the option. Gruenberg stayed opposed and voted “no” even for tabling.


Commissioners approved two requests from Dana Larsen concerning county highway projects.

The first was to approve KLJ, a Bismarck-based engineering firm, to perform the preliminary engineering work on six remaining 2013 “disaster sites” in the county, out of 16 total. KLJ was one of four firms that responded to project advertising and one of three interviewed for the job, winning the recommendation from an interview committee.

The work will be billed through the North Dakota Department of Transportation, which will shoulder 80 percent of the bill with the county responsible for the remaining 20 percent.

The second project was a change-order to a project that had been nearing completion before rising waters destroyed the inslopes on Ward County Road 9 south of Makoti.

The change order, which will add fixing the eroded inslopes to the project already under way, will cost an additional $1.1 million, raising the total project cost to roughly $3 million. The county would pay about $225,000, with the remaining funding to come from state and federal agencies.

Other business

Commissioners approved November 2013 Social Services bills totaling $50,494.42 and the November regular bills totaling $1,253,961.34.

The commissioners took a recess at the conclusion of their regular meeting and then resumed in an executive session to talk with state’s attorney Rozanna Larson. An executive session is closed to the public and media. At the conclusion of the lengthy session no motions were made.