Renovation work on the Dickinson County Courthouse should be completed by mid-December.
County Administrator Brad Homman told commissioners on Thursday he hopes the mid-December estimate holds true, especially since that would provide extra time to move back in, rather than trying to complete the move in one or two days.
“We would be able to move stuff that’s in storage into the appropriate office and give those offices time to get things back into place,” Homman said.
Currently, the county clerk, treasurer, register of deeds and other offices are temporarily located at the Abilene Civic Center. Dickinson County District Court currently is operating out of Sterl Hall.
Administration is sharing office space with the sheriff’s department in the new jail addition. The inmates were moved out of the 1956 courthouse jail in August and are housed in the new facility.
Old jail demo
Demolition of the old jail is progressing, Homman said. Among the projects, demo crews are using torches to cut down the bars and working to remove the old cells.
Photos of the old cells have been taken so a replica can be created.
“I talked to the demolition supervisor and they’re going to retain the front of a cell for us,” Homman said. “Hopefully we can come up with a really cool display of what it looked like in the old jail."
“They don’t make jails like that anymore and haven’t for several decades,” he continued, explaining cells with bars are a thing of the past. “I think it will be real neat to historically document what we used to have in the building.”
Renovation of the main courtroom continues with new windows, the original pew benches are being sanded and refinished, electricians are installing lights and HVAC vents are being placed in the ceiling.
The final steps in that room involve installing the ceiling tiles, the refinished pews and new flooring.
In the basement, two sump pumps — the main pump and the backup — both burned out earlier this month when heavy rains fell. New pumps will soon be installed.
Rain gets into the window wells of the old building, especially outside the appraiser’s office, seeps into the basement and drains into the sump.
“We had a couple inches of rain in the basement. Fortunately, there’s nothing down there to hurt right now. But some point in the future we’ll be storing stuff down there,” Homman said.
Window vendors will be on scene soon to finish some windows that were measured incorrectly and landscapers will be working around the building, especially around the newly completed jail addition.
• Commissioners proclaimed the week of Sept. 17 - 23 as Constitution Week in Dickinson County. Chairman Lynn Peterson said Abilene resident Ronda Beaupre brought the proclamation to their attention.
The Daughters of the American Revolution initiated the Constitution Week observance to remind the public the Constitution is the basis of America’s great heritage and way of life. The law was signed on Aug. 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower after approval by Congress.
Peterson also commended the Abilene DAR chapter, which he said was very active.
• Homman said the Sept. 16 meeting agenda will include recommendations for the county’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. Finance Director Janelle Dockendorf has been working on a Power Point presentation.
Homman said he and Dockendorf had met with Chuck Scott of the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation about including child care and housing as potential uses.
• Peterson and Commissioner Craig Chamberlin spoke about attending a regional meeting for county commissioners in Clay Center. The attending commissioners spoke about situations all are facing.
Some of those shared concerns include the lack of child care, housing and too few applicants for open positions, Chamberlin said.
Homman mentioned the applicant pool may improve since COVID-era expanded unemployment benefits ended on Labor Day.
“I’d anticipate in the next 30 days people will be coming off of unemployment and going back to work,” Homman said.