The completion date of the Dickinson County Jail has been pushed back to the first of May because too few masons are available to complete the work, Dickinson County Administrator Brad Homman told commissioners during their work session last week.

However, once jail construction is complete and all equipment is place, inmates will be moved into the new facility and demolition will begin on the existing jail — a process that will not only take time, but be labor intensive as well, he said.

Even though the new jail still is under construction, preparation for Phase 2 — remodeling the current courthouse — currently is underway.

A Topeka moving company began moving Dickinson County District Court out of the courthouse over to Sterl Hall on Monday and the move was expected to be completed by Wednesday. 

Once district court has vacated the west side of the top floor in the courthouse, a crew from Loyd Builders plans to begin demolition in that part of the building.

Two weeks later on Feb. 16-17, the same moving company will move the treasurer’s office/motor vehicle, county clerk, appraiser and register of deeds to their temporary home at the Abilene civic center.

Homman said the two-week lag is to allow county tech staff to make sure district court is operational in its temporary location and ensure “the kinks are worked out with phones, computers and everything.”

In the past, the county has utilized highway department staff to help when moving items, but Homman said that is not workable this time of year and road and bridge crews have “got their plate full,” he said.

Also, the moving company being utilized has enclosed trucks to protect furniture and equipment, necessary to protect items should it rain or snow.


Closed for moving

The courthouse will be closed on Feb. 16-17 so movers are not trying to maneuver around customers. The departments will reopen at their new locations on Feb. 18.

Sometime after the other departments vacate the courthouse, Dickinson County 911 Dispatch will move out of the basement into a temporary location in the old garage area of the courthouse, located near the new sheriff’s office.

“One of the main reasons for moving them — besides the fact that we need to (remodel) their area — the elevator will be under construction and we’ve got a couple staff that need the elevator to get up and down every day,” Homman explained.

As part of the basement construction, the floor will need to be excavated and a sewer line that runs through the middle of the floor will be dug up and replaced.

A couple years ago when the sewer line was scoped, plumbers discovered the line was 85 percent obstructed, a problem that caused leaking sewage in the cement walls and an odor, especially in the register of deeds office.


No driver’s license renewals

Because of the temporary move, several county functions will be affected — most significant being the Dickinson County driver’s license station. During that time no driver’s licenses can be renewed in Dickinson County. People needing those services will need to go to Geary, Saline or some other county.

Driver’s license (DL) renewals can be done before they expire so people wanting to renew locally can do so before Feb. 10.

The reason DL renewals cannot be done locally during the temporary move is because the State of Kansas requires that the procedure be completed using dedicated circuits “that take six months to get moved,” Homman said. “We didn’t even know we were moving until the last couple of weeks.

“Since that’s such a volatile target/time frame, there was no way to give them (the State) notice and then give them six months notice to move it back,” he added.

The state will take the DL circuits offline and store the equipment until the renovation is completed and the treasurer/motor vehicle office moves back to the courthouse.

County Clerk Barb Jones noted her office will not sell hunting or fishing licenses or process any boat registrations while staff is at the temporary location. However, hunting/fishing licenses can be purchased at Dave’s Guns, 201 S. Buckeye, Abilene, and boat registrations/renewals can be done through the Kansas Wildlife and Parks in Pratt.


Sterl Hall addition

The new bathroom addition at Sterl Hall is still under construction, and obviously, was not going to be completed before district court’s move, which happened this week.

However, commissioners heard that electricians were on site last week working with HVAC contractors and sheetrock was ready to be installed.

Plans are for the new addition to be completed within two to three weeks.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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