The Marion County Board of Supervisors began the first steps of a new courthouse elevator project during a special session on Jan. 6.

The supervisors are looking to build a new elevator in the Marion County Courthouse. During Monday’s meeting, the board approved the facilities department to begin the process by seeking bids from potential contractors.

The courthouse’s current elevator was installed in 1974. According to Chris Nesteby, County Director of Facilities and Maintenance, the elevator is old, outdated and is not ADA or safety compliant as of May 1, 2020.

The proposed project would replace the current elevator with one that is ADA and safety compliant.

“We’re at the point where this is a need, not a want,” said Sheriff Jason Sandholt.

According to Nesteby, the cost of the project would be approximately $1.3 million.

With Monday’s approval to start the bidding process, Nesteby is hoping construction on the new elevator will begin in the spring, with the project wrapping up by the end of 2020. He estimates it will take about eight months to complete.

During the construction process of the new elevator, the courthouse’s current elevator will not be available for use. This could impact daily operations for several departments within the courthouse.

Supervisor Chair Mark Raymie asked department heads to work on creating “worst case plans” in the scenario their offices will be affected by the construction. The plans should allow the departments to continue working with minimal disruption, but could potentially be located outside of the courthouse.

“I think what we need to do is be extremely flexible and have plans in place, so when our flexibility is stretched, we’re able to easily maintain the confidence of the public by providing services,” Nesteby said. “That means we have a plan in place ahead of time.”

Nesteby says the courthouse should stay open for business during the construction phase. He says the elevator construction will be built internally, and that it will most likely affect one floor per week. This may cause some offices to create contingency plans.

“I know this is going to be tough on all of us, but we’ve got to keep a positive attitude about this,” said supervisor Kisha Jahner.

Nesteby is planning on having bids returned by Jan. 30. Additional meetings regarding the elevator’s construction will be held once bids have been returned.

Emma Skahill can be reached at eskahill@journalexpress.net or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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