- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - The Hall County board has decided to back out of its deal to buy the former state Workforce Development building from the city of Grand Island, to the dismay of at least one City Council member.

The board voted 4-3 last month to buy temporary courtrooms and office space for $600,000 while the county upgrades the heating and air conditioning at the Hall County Courthouse.

But the board was told Tuesday morning that inspections showed the former Workforce Development building lacked sufficient utilities.

Board Hall Supervisor Pam Lancaster said 500 people a day use the county courthouse, so “we feel that the water service is not sufficient to handle that kind of traffic.”

That many people also would overtax the heating and air conditioning, Lancaster said.

Chief Deputy Hall County Attorney Jack Zitterkopf said the deal with the city lets the county terminate the purchase if the county is dissatisfied with the condition of the property, The Grand Island Independent said (https://bit.ly/1gtJHlK ).

“We feel the City Council will understand” the county’s board’s decision, Lancaster said.

The wasn’t entirely the case Tuesday evening, when Lancaster and board chairman Bob McFarland attended the Grand Island City Council meeting to explain the board’s decision.

Councilwoman Peg Gilbert didn’t agree when, after Lancaster apologized for any inconvenience, Mayor Jay Vavricek said the city-county relationship “is stronger than ever and will continue.

“I realized you have buyer’s remorse, but is that our problem?” Gilbert asked Lancaster. Gilbert later was the lone no vote in the council’s 8-1 decision not to sell the building to the county.

Councilman Mike Paulick said he’d rather see the building go to the Grand Island Utilities Department, but City Attorney Bob Sivick said the building’s fate would have to be decided at a future council meeting.

As for the county, it still is faced with a need for temporary courtroom space. Officials have said the $1 million renovation cost will double if the work must be done while the courthouse remains open to the public.

“There is no Plan B,” Lancaster said.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com


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