June 15, 2024

Board sees renderings of proposed LEC

The unobtrusive low profile of the proposed LEC is noticeable in this rendering showing the building from the Courthouse parking lot.

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Scott Fettig, architect from Klein McCarthy, attended the meeting and presented floor plans and renderings of the proposed Law Enforcement Center to be built in back of the Grant County Courthouse.

Fettig attended last Tuesday’s meeting of the Grant County Board of Commissioners.

He said the building was moved a bit to the west, which does not interfere with the commissioners wish to not have it be noticeable from in front of the courthouse. He also said costs have increased around 10 percent from when they last met, but also went through a few cost saving ideas.

Because of inflation, Fettig said the commissioners can figure another $75,000 added to the cost every month. 

Commission Ken Johnson asked how much higher would the cost be if they waited until 2024 to start construction.

Fettig said, by then, the cost would be well over $10 million for the same building.

Commissioner Troy Johnson said he would like to see a public vote on the issue.

Fettig said, unless there was a special election, the soonest there could be a public vote would be November 2022. In that case, Klein McCarthy would put the project aside until the result of the vote is known. If it passed, they could complete drawings in three months, let bids in June, and begin construction in July of 2023.

“I think a vote would pass,” said Commissioner Walvatne, former Grant County Sheriff. “The public knows how badly we need this. But if it does not pass, it puts us in a terrible situation. We need to build regardless.”

The commissioners decided to take no action at this time.

      Senior living facilities 

         seek ARP funds

Stan Stark, board member from Minnewaska Lutheran Home Senior Living in Hoffman, attended last Tuesday’s Grant County Board of Commissioners meeting to explain the home’s need for American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. 

Grant County has been allocated $1.16 million in ARP funds and has until 2024 to determine how they will be used.

Stark explained the Hoffman senior living facility, which features 20 apartment units, opened in 2018. He said the COVID-19 pandemic created a crisis among health care facilities and currently there are 20,000 openings for health care workers in Minnesota.

“We are three short in Hoffman and cannot operate at capacity because we don’t have the staff,” he said, adding “The staff we have are getting burned out.”

He said staff are leaving to find jobs with less responsibility, and the Hoffman facility would use ARP funds to train and retain staff.

“The Minnesota Legislature just passed a bill that requires all staff to be licensed,” he said. “That is $5,000 alone.”

Stark said he would like to come back to a county board meeting in a couple of weeks with a specific proposal.

He also mentioned the need for garages for residents who drive cars, as they are always covered with snow.

“The needs are great and the needs are right now.”

Also on the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting, Amy Deacon and Ted Christenson, of Maplewood Manor, visited with the board to reiterate comments Commissioner Bill LaValley made two weeks ago about supporting the Elbow Lake senior living facility with ARP funds.

“COVID-19 has had a major impact on our occupancy rate,” said Deacon, president of Northern Oaks Management, the company managing Maplewood Manor. “We applied for quite a few grants, but because we got started late, and the new addition didn’t really open until 2020, we were not considered.”

Deacon said Maplewood Manor has experienced 35 to 40 percent increases in baseline expenses because of the pandemic.

“We have had an 80 to 85 percent occupancy rate at the end of 2021, but our projections were to be at 95 percent.

She added that the state had to delay the granting of a license to operate from October 2019 to June 2020.

“That slowed us down,” Deacon said.

Deacon added that staffing is always difficult in the health care field, but Maplewood Manor is excited about where they are now.

The unobtrusive low profile of the proposed LEC is noticeable in this rendering showing the building from the Courthouse parking lot.

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