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The Carthage Press
  • County accepts bid to renovate bank building

  • The first official step to moving the Jasper County Sheriff's headquarters to a vacant bank building on the Carthage Square was approved by the Jasper County Commissioners on Tuesday.
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  • The first official step to moving the Jasper County Sheriff's headquarters to a vacant bank building on the Carthage Square was approved by the Jasper County Commissioners on Tuesday.
    Commissioners accepted a $495,000 bid from R.E. Smith Construction to remodel the former Bank of America building at Third and Main streets, on the northwest corner of the Square, to serve as the Sheriff's headquarters.
    They also approved a plan to remove a building on county property on River Street to make room to build a garage to repair and maintain Sheriff's vehicles.
    Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser said these moves are designed to allow the Sheriff's office to move from its current rented headquarters on County Road 180 to county-owned space, saving  taxpayers $70,000 a year in rent alone.
    R.E. Smith's was the lowest of three bids received on the project.
    Zahner Hansen Construction Group bid $497,050 and G&G Construction bid $528,000.
    “The $495,000 is very close to what we had initially anticipated,” Kaiser said. “We started off thinking that we might be able to do it a little cheaper than that, but when we started talking to the engineer and getting some estimates on what it was going to look like, that was actually right on the money with what he anticipated.”
    The bid includes building a mezzanine over the current bank lobby, giving a large second story that Kaiser said he plans to use as a “state-of-the-art training room.”
    Kaiser said including the mezzanine added $70,000 to the R.E. Smith Construction bid, but it would be worth the cost in the long run.
    “Ultimately the mezzanine itself, in this particular bid that we took, was a $35,000 option, and finishing the mezzanine was a $35,000 option,” Kaiser said. “So basically we're looking at $70,000 difference between having it and not having it. That, to me, made the decision a lot easier because that's basically one year's rent in the building out there. We'll never stand around 10 years from now at the new sheriff's office saying 'man we've got all this room and nothing to do with it.' That comment is never made in public government so it'll give us the option for future growth and really we can only pull this off one time.”
    Kaiser said the building was built with the intention of adding a second level over the lobby, and doing that work later after the sheriff's office had already moved in and was using the building would be very disruptive.
    “It would be a serious disruption of services because we'd have to vacate the top floor while they did that work,” Kaiser said. “The work goes down into the bottom floor because they have to build piers into the basement, so it's truly a one-time deal. The cost difference made the decision a lot easier.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The commissioners are still discussing how to finance the construction, but Kaiser said he expects the cost to be covered by a combination of county reserve funds and bank financing, with proceeds from the quarter-cent Law Enforcement Sales Tax repaying the cost over time.
    In a related move, the commissioners said they planned to remove a building at county-owned property across River Street from the Jasper County Common Road District's lot to make room for the construction of a maintenance and mechanic's garage.
    The commissioners said they hoped to find someone who would remove the building for the salvage cost or take it to reuse it at no cost to the county.

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