CREEDE— Mineral County Commissioners held a special meeting on Thursday, Sept. 21 to move forward with plans to remodel the current courthouse.
Commissioners listened to a presentation of preliminary plans from Reynolds, Ash and Associates, an architecture and engineering company. The plans that were presented were one of three the commissioners have been reviewing over the last several months and would be funded through the Underfunded Courthouse grant as well as other federally funded grants if awarded.
The meeting was hosted by Brad Ash, who took a moment to walk commissioners through the plans and gain feedback from the board as well as Holly Wheelwright, county court clerk and Tom Sullivan from the state court system who were present by phone. The courthouse would be extended by roughly 2,000 square feet from the outer wall of the current courtroom to the north. The changes would include adding a shared jury room/commissioner meeting chambers and a whole new courtroom for proceedings.
Mineral County Administrator Janelle Kukuk made an announcement during the regular monthly commissioners meeting on Dec. 5, 2016 that the Mineral County Courthouse was awarded $30,000 for an improvement project by the Underfunded Courthouse Facility Commission Grant to help pay for the preliminary planning phase of the courthouse project.
Now, Kukuk will be moving forward with a larger grant from the Underfunded Courthouse Facility Commission to help pay for construction and remodeling costs. Kukuk explained to the board that she will be applying for roughly $500,000 and has a deadline of October to complete the grant. Kukuk asked commissioners to consider moving forward with plans to expand and remodel the courthouse, so she can get the ball moving. Kukuk also stated that she plans on applying for an Energy and Mineral Impact Grant through the Department of Local Affairs as well.
The entire project is estimated to cost just under $1.5 million when finished, as predicted by Reynolds, Ash and Associates. Commissioner Chairwoman Ramona Weber spoke up and stated that her fear is that one of the two grants will not come through and then they will be in a position to forfeit the remaining grant until a time when the remaining funding can be accumulated.
Kukuk agreed, but stated that from her conversations with Marty Gavlin with the Underfunded Courthouse Facility Commission, she feels confident that at least some funding will be awarded. Kukuk continued, explaining that other options are out there as well, such as funding from the Secretary of State, possibly the USDA if they could find a way to fit the project into their guidelines and maybe the Office of Emergency Management, because the courthouse would house the sheriff’s office and search and rescue.
At the end of the meeting, commissioners voted to approve the phase three plans for the courthouse and move forward with the project for a proposed start date in the spring of 2018. The next steps will be to finalize the proposed plans with some minor changes and begin applying for grants to help with funding.