We were pleasantly surprised and cautiously optimistic when Sheriff Lamphere gave an update on the progress of the committee working on getting the county a new courthouse. While a sheriff’s role doesn’t necessarily include finding buildings or people to build them, let’s see what they’re up to at the moment:
The Building Committee, which consists of James Ager, Chad Erk, Sheriff Lampehere, and city councilman Clark Sowers, Belle Fourche’s police chief, and a Mr. Sorenson from court services, is looking at purchasing the old Shopko building along with half of the block. Yes, this means Dollar General would need to move, but they are aware of that as it was always a possibility if someone else bought the building.
Being a 45,000 sq. ft. building, it has the space necessary to house a joint law enforcement and county courthouse facility. On August 14th, Elevatus will come here to do a walk through and site tour of the building to see what they can do in renovations and put together drawings to see what it would look like, which would cost $6,000 total for this Conceptual and Programming Study contract, which we felt was a fantastic route to take since it is significantly cheaper than what it would cost for plans for a brand new building, which was in the tens of thousands of dollars.
There ARE grants and funding opportunities, but Sheriff Lamphere said before we’re able to apply for grants and other funding opportunities, we need to be able to present a location, hard core numbers, plans/preliminary set of drawings, which is what this whole thing happening on August 14th is leading up to. This is a preliminary step that the county can afford.
We’re cautiously hopeful that while the county was presented with a $25 million project for a brand new building, which is a project that’s almost 3 times the amount of the county’s annual budget, that they’ll continue on this more frugal path that won’t financially strap citizens of Butte county and renovate an existing building that’s in a great location for a much more affordable price.
While we’ve seen in the past that our commission will be in preliminary stages for an issue yet seemed to have already made their minds up about it, I want to reiterate again that this entire project is in preliminary stages, which means nothing is set in stone yet. NOTHING. The only contract signed was for Elevatus to come out on August 14th for a visit to do a walk-through and give the building committee ideas of what they’d do for renovations. If I understood it right, this will give solid numbers and plans to allow the county to apply for grants and other forms of funding.