This is an architect’s drawing of the proposed new Marshall County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center. Public meetings are planned around the county during the next three weeks to explain the plans and answer questions from residents.
This diagram shows the positioning of the proposed Marshall County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center in relation to the current Courthouse.
Meetings Set On Courthouse
Marshall County Commissioners and HKG Architects of Aberdeen will hold a series of six public meetings around the county during the next three weeks to explain plans for a new Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center.
Two meetings are set for Tuesday, April 16, at the Marshall County Community Building in Britton at 1 p.m. and at the Lake City Community Building at 6 p.m. A second Britton meeting is planned at the Community Building on Monday, April 22, at 6 p.m.
On Thursday, April 25, a meeting is planned at the Veblen Community Building (old school gym) at 6 p.m. A meeting will be held at the Langford Area School Gym at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 29, and at the Eden Fire Hall on Thursday, May 2, at 6 p.m.
During the past 24 months the Marshall County Commission has conducted a feasibility study to determine the best course of action to update the present jail and courthouse, which was constructed in 1907-08. The current jail 911 center does not meet safety requirements and the state could close the facility. The existing courthouse also does not meet ADA standards and the state could mandate updates.
There are safety and liability concerns with the Marshall County jail. Currently, the facility does not have secure access or lock-down capabilities and the jail is in jeopardy of being closed due to those safety risks.
“We can’t separate anybody,” said Sheriff Dale Elsen. “We only have two cell areas –one with two beds and one with four beds.”
Commissioners must also address the need to secure county records. With current storage ability, the county risks the loss of vital information.
“If the state really wanted to get tough, it could come in right now and close up the jail and our 911 center,” said Marshall County Commission Chairman Doug Medhaug. “So far we’ve been getting reprieves and extensions.”
In its feasibility study, commissioners looked at remodeling the current courthouse, considered a combination of remodeling and new construction, and also looked at construction of an entirely new facility.
The study led commissioners to determine that the most feasible and cost-effective long-term approach for a courthouse and law enforcement center would be new construction.
“It costs approximately $60,000 annually to maintain the present courthouse,” said Marshall County Auditor Megan Biel. “In order to remodel this building to meet ADA and building code standards, it would cost about $1.7 million, and that would not solve the issue of not having enough beds in the jail or the jail safety issues. That is also an uncertain number because you don’t know what issues you would run into once you start remodeling an old building.”
“The biggest thing with an old building like this is that you just keep throwing money into it, and it doesn’t end,” said Marshall County Commission Chairman Doug Medhaug. “If you can build something new for not much more than it would cost to fix something old, why would you do that? And hopefully this county will be around for another 100 years.”
Current plans call for a twostory facility that would carry a price tag of $13.1 million.
The ground floor would be 21,458 square feet and would include a 24-bed jail, 911 call center, dispatch, the sheriff’s department, secure interview space, deputies workroom, and county offices. A second level would be 10,145 square feet and would include a larger courtroom, rooms for court services, jury room, judge’s chambers, and clerk of courts office.
Plans call for the new building to be built on the south and west side of the current courthouse. The existing courthouse would continue to be used until the new facility is complete and then demolished with the area used for parking.
The new structure would be funded by a bond issue with Marshall County residents having the opportunity to vote on the issue. If passed, the bond issue would raise taxes by about 89 cents per $1,000 of valuation. That would mean a property owner with a $100,000 house would pay $89.32 per year.
Commissioners point to several opportunities that a new facility would provide for the county.
With a 24-bed jail capacity the Marshall County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center could become a regional facility. That additional capacity makes the jail safer and could also help the county gain revenue to offset costs by housing prisoners from other areas. A userfriendly courthouse will better accommodate county residents, and the facility would provide additional jobs. The new facility would also allow the commission to better control costs, safety, and future needs.