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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — Now that the Dunn County Board has held its first meeting in the newly remodeled Community Services Building, the move from the Dunn County Government Center on Wilson Avenue is complete.
Dunn County Board members gathered in the basement conference room of the Community Services Building on Highway 12/29 for their first meeting January 15.
The county recently spent about $4 million remodeling parts of the building to accommodate offices that had been located in the Government Center.
After the residents in the old Dunn County Health Care Center moved to The Neighbors of Dunn County in 2012, the county spent approximately $11 million remodeling part of the old health care center building for county offices.
The county board meeting room did not have a sound system set up for the January 15 meeting and did not have any of the electronics of the former meeting room at the Government Center, such as an indication on a screen in the front of the room as to which county board supervisor was speaking and which supervisors were waiting to speak.
A powerpoint presentation used by the Dunn County 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Team was reflected on a cement block wall rather than a screen.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Paul Miller, county manager.
Larry Bjork, county board supervisor from Menomonie, wanted to know why many of the offices in the newly remodeled parts of the building did not have doors, but instead had what Bjork called “shower curtains.”
“It’s a work in progress,” Miller repeated, noting that the curtains were a choice for many county employees.
Larry Bjork said that “choice” is not what he had heard in talking to employees.
The truth of the matter is that when the remodeling of the second floor started, asbestos was discovered, Miller said.
The asbestos abatement cost $500,000 and that meant other parts of the project had to be eliminated or modified, he said, including 42 offices that did not have doors installed.
Larry Bjork wanted to know if there were plans to install the doors on the offices.
The doors will have to be part of the capital projects budget planning process, Miller said.
The Dunn County Board accepted the City of Menomonie’s offer to purchase the building on Wilson Avenue for $775,000 at the July 31, 2019, meeting.
The Dunn County Board approved moving out of the Government Center and relocating the offices to the Community Services Building in July of 2018.
According to information Miller provided to the county board in July of 2018, keeping county offices in the Government Center would have required $3.8 million in repairs for upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), for replacing the elevator to make it Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and for replacing the roof.
County offices began moving from the Government Center to the Community Services Building in November.
In other business, the Dunn County Board:
• Recognized the following employees who had retired recently, representing 160 years of service all together: Kim Clark, Louise Turek, Joanne Olson, Bob Kistner and Leanne Bartz.
• Learned that a special meeting of the Dunn County Board has been scheduled for February 24 at 7 p.m. to meet with elected state officials to discuss the 2020 legislative agenda.
• Learned that a special meeting of the Dunn County Board has been scheduled for March 7 at 8 a.m. for a five-year budgeting workshop to consider capital improvement projects. The budget planning process is intended to avoid the ups and downs in the budget and to be proactive rather than reactive, Miller said.
• Learned that of the $1 million appropriated for the health and human services department to cover the budget shortfall, $500,000 will be returned to the county’s general fund.
• Learned Deb Gotlibson, president of the Dunn County Fair Board, has been elected president of the Wisconsin Association of Fairs.
• Learned that Eric Turner, executive director of the Dunn Count Economic Development Corporation, resigned at the end of December and “is very ill,” according to James Anderson, county board supervisor from Menomonie. DCEDC has started a search for a new director and hopes to be able to introduce him or her at DCEDC’s annual meeting in April, he said.
• Learned that Alice in Dairyland is expected to be in attendance at the Dunn County Fair in July.
• Learned that the Community Resources and Tourism Committee had approved a $1,500 donation to the Dunn County 4-H Dairy Judging Team to help fund the trip to the international competition.
• Learned that Dunn County will be reviewing and updating the county’s comprehensive land use plan. Dunn County is contracting with Cedar Corporation as consultants on the plan update, said Tom Quinn, county board supervisor from Downing and chair of the PR&D Committee. Dunn County staff will meet with each township in Dunn County about the comprehensive land use plan, he said.
• Learned that the census at The Neighbors is 134, and the facility is considered full. The Neighbors is starting a waiting list, said Elton Christopherson, county board supervisor from Elk Mound and chair of the Neighbors committee.
• Learned that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has taken out an ad in opposition to taxpayer money being used in lobbying efforts with state legislators. The Wisconsin Counties Association lobbies state government on behalf of counties on various issues, said James Tripp, county board supervisor from Menomonie. WMC spent $21 million on lobbying state government last year, he noted. The upcoming meeting Dunn County is holding with local state legislators “might be suspect” if a law were to be passed about not spending taxpayer money to contact legislators, Tripp said. “Remember Act 10? I don’t think it’s too soon to pay attention to this,” said Gary Stene, county board supervisor from Colfax. “I agree with Mr. Stene. We shouldn’t let this one pass,” said Tim Lienau, county board supervisor from Menomonie. Act 10 went into effect in 2011 and all but eliminated collective bargaining for public employees.
• Approved a resolution supporting Assembly Bill 344 regarding telephone company tax exemption for property in rural or underserved areas to provide broadband service.