Voters told the Lee County Board in November to repair the county’s historic courthouses in Keokuk and Fort Madison instead of building a new courthouse near the county jail. The board appears to be listening, as it approved the hiring of a construction manager, this week, to prioritize and oversee upcoming projects.
Midwest Construction Consultants (MCC) out of Houghton, Iowa will develop a long-term renovation plan for the courthouses, the county attorney’s office and the county office building in Fort Madison and another other building designated by the county.
The plan will be based on MCC President John Hansen’s knowledge of the buildings, recommendations from the county’s maintenance department and an engineering study presented to the county board last spring.
Hansen has extensive experience working with the county as he managed the expansion and renovation of the county jail and the construction of the new conservation building. He’s also working with the health department on its new building and helped design the proposed centralized courthouse that was voted down.
The agreement between Lee County and MCC calls for MCC to be paid $75/hour plus mileage, postage and printing as needed. The firm will report to the board on a monthly basis, providing written reports with pictures and cost estimates. It will also develop bid documents and work with local contractors.
The county board will review the renovation plan and sign off on the projects included. It will also have the ability to terminate the agreement at any time at no additional cost.
Supervisor Gary Folluo said, Tuesday, that it's time to move forward with the development of a three-year plan. He first proposed the idea during a meeting about one month ago.
Folluo did ask about the possibility of hiring a maintenance director as opposed to entering into an open-ended contract with MCC. The previous maintenance director, who was fired in late 2010, sued the county for wrongful termination and the position has been vacant since.
The board was told it could cost up to $75,000/year to hire a maintenance director, given salary and benefits. Those duties are currently overseen by County Auditor Denise Fraise’s office.
The initial renovation projects are expected to include replacing the roof of the courthouse in Keokuk, tuck-pointing that building’s exterior and stabilizing its clock-tower. Tuck-pointing would also be done at the courthouse in Fort Madison.