- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - The Hall County Board of Supervisors has voted to make heating, air conditioning and other improvements at the courthouse in Grand Island.

The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to proceed with the project. Construction is expected to begin in March.

A new door between the county court jury deliberation room and the mental health hearing room were approved on Tuesday as part of the project. Sheriff Jerry Watson asked for the change after his chief deputy, Chris Rea, noted the door could increase safety by allowing a more direct route for people being held in emergency protective custody to be escorted to their mental health hearings.

The board also agreed to replace all the bathroom fixtures and to make all bathrooms handicapped accessible. Engineer Jon Jackson said the bathroom work will add $87,500 to the cost of the $1.7 million heating and air conditioning project.

Contractor drawings are supposed to be ready on Oct. 15, with bids due on Nov. 18. Construction is proposed to start on March 15 and take 18 months.

The board had considered moving county workers out of the building to facilitate the project and perhaps lower its cost, but officials couldn’t find the right space.

The county had negotiated a $600,000 agreement to buy the former state Workforce Development building from the city of Grand Island. But the county backed out of the deal when officials discovered that the building lacked sufficient utilities.

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