Friday, October 20, 2017

County to explore new complex construction options

county offices 2The Johnson County commissioners met for a regularly scheduled meeting Monday in which they approved a measure to move forward with Shawnee Survey & Consulting on preparing a feasibility study to build a new county complex in Vienna.

This is not the first time the county has sought to construct and consolidate its offices as previous price tags proved too much for the county with estimates on costs totaling more than $11.2 million.

While it was said that the overall cost to construct a new county complex has not declined since it was last proposed, the commissioners agreed that the current county offices are in a state of decline and face continued, ongoing repairs with little salvation in their appearances.

“It’s time for us to bite the bullet to build,” commissioner Ernie Henshaw said in the previous commissioner’s meeting as the proposal was discussed. Henshaw said the aging offices in which Johnson County employees work in would prove too costly to renovate and would only lead to an eventual new construction project on top of the renovation costs. “There are things we just can’t offer if we stay here.”

With the location of a new complex up for consideration, Shawnee Survey is to provide a review of such possibilities that would explore construction ranging from locations near the square to locations near the highway. The cost of the feasibility study, estimated at $18,000, would be deducted from the cost of construction should Shawnee Survey win in an eventual bidding process. Within the feasibility study, Shawnee Survey would seek possible grant monies to help offset the construction costs. The commissioners also agreed to review a possible building commissions committee to help oversee design and facility options.

No timetable was provided on when the county would decide if it would move forward once the feasibility study was complete.

In new business, the commissioners approved liquor license renewals for seven Johnson County establishments. Big Boys on the Loop; Eagle Ridge Wine and Brew; Egyptian Hills Marina; Cache River Basin; Wineaux; Bella Terra Winery; and Windy Hill Winery were all approved for renewal of their liquor licenses.

Animal control contracts for the city of Vienna and the village of Burnside were approved as well as an annual termite control contract.

The commissioners postponed action on a Fracking Oversight Committee to allow more time to decide what role the committee would perform with the eventual goal of having it provide recommendations to the commissioners on questions surrounding the hotly debated practice. It was discussed that a committee would improve Johnson County’s responses to the debate and that the members would likely come from both sides of the argument.

County Commissioners’ meeting dates were also set for 2014 and a Johnson County Personnel Policy was introduced for review with its discussion set for debate next year.

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