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Cass County board hires architects for jail expansion, election training and storage center

Number of building projects on the plate for county is growing

Cass County Jail
A pod in Cass County Jail is shown here.
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — The building list is continuing to grow for Cass County.

Cass County commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 18, hired architects to work on plans for a jail expansion, along with an election training and storage building.

It was noted the board is also looking at a new 911 regional dispatch center and a remodeling or possible expansion at the county highway building.

Although the county is looking at partners for the dispatch center and highway building, the other two structures will likely be on their own.

The jail contract, which will also include a subcontractor to examine the need for the number of beds in the coming 10 to 15 years, was awarded to Klein McCarthy Architects of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a firm that has designed jails across the Upper Midwest.

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The firm designed the current jail intake expansion project that is underway. They have also worked on more than 400 county and state jail studies, designs and projects, including the Clay County Jail in Moorhead, the Becker County Jail in Detroit Lakes and the Barnes County Jail in Valley City.

Their work will involve identifying an estimated size and cost for for the potential jail expansion as well as design options that would add to the current maximum capacity of 136 inmates. The study cost will be $17,900.

In addition, Bill Garnos, a project partner, will be responsible for an inmate population forecast for $8,000. Garnos, of Gladstone, Missouri, is a nationally recognized jail and prison consultant who has done projects for more than 100 cities and counties in 27 states.

It's expected his work will be done by late April or early May. His was the only firm to submit a proposal for the study.

The commissioners selected Foss Architects of Fargo to study the election training and storage building they said could also be utilized by the law enforcement center for its equipment currently stored at the county highway shop.

The two proposals — the other coming from Michael Burns Architects of Moorhead — were comparable in cost, said County Administrator Robert Wilson, but Foss said they could have the study completed earlier by July.

A training classroom for temporary election workers would be part of the project.

Commissioners said the Foss bid calls for 4.5% of the final estimate of the construction cost, if it's built.

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Commissioners Mary Scherling and Chad Peterson questioned if the building was needed, but approved going ahead with taking a look at the options.

The county is planning to use some of its federal COVID relief funds for projects, while it will partner with cities and Clay County on the dispatch center.

As for the highway building remodeling or expansion, the county is hoping to find partners for office space in the highway building where they could work more closely together. The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion and Cass County Joint Water Resource District offices could be among the groups joining in the project.

The highway department is also in need of more office space.

An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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