WALKER -- The Cass County Board voted Tuesday over objections from Commissioners Glenn Witham and Virgil Foster to buy two more interior units and a porch on the Pine River Shopping Block.
"I'd rather put money into a new building," Witham said, adding he believes there may be more repair/remodeling expenses involved in the Shopping Block building than the board expects at this time.
The county will pay a discounted price, with the balance considered a donation from present owner Dick Houston of Pine River.
It includes 1,849 square feet inside the building and 800 square feet of covered exterior entryway.
Purchase price will be $27,739.95 or about $9 per square foot. If only the interior office portion is considered, County Administrator Robert Yochum said the cost would be about $14 per square foot.
Based on recent remodeling of another unit Houston donated to the county, which extension services now occupies, Yochum estimated remodeling costs should not exceed more than $25 per square foot.
Cass County Assessing Department valued the three units the board agreed to buy Tuesday at $59,100 for property tax purposes. Houston had previously had a purchase offer that fell through for $77,000, said Commissioner John Stranne.
The board's motion included a stipulation that renting office space from the Pine River Family Center in the same building for social services, veterans services and the sheriff's department be discontinued. Those offices will be moved into the county owned space.
This will save about $600 per month rent, Yochum said.
It also included a stipulation that any staff members who might be asked to move from the courthouse in Walker to Pine River should be consulted before any office move is finalized.
After touring the building again Monday, the commissioners decided one interior unit already re-painted and re-carpeted would serve as a public meeting room for extension services and other county authorized meetings.
The second interior unit will be divided into offices.
There are no present plans for the covered, exterior front entryway.
County Building and Grounds Supervisor Tom Emery told the board the Shopping Block exterior is cedar sided. There is no rot, he said.
Sentence to Serve crews can re-paint or re-stain the building for only materials cost, Emery said. He said he sees no immediate need to re-roof the portion of the building the board agreed to buy Tuesday.
Board members questioned apparent water damage in the front interior space. Emery said air conditioning pipes have leaked in the family center portion, so possibly could be a cause in the county section of the building.
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