- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2015

BOTTINEAU, N.D. (AP) - For the past few years, the city of Bottineau had been pondering construction of a new building to replace the tight quarters being used for office space in the city’s armory.

The State Bank of Bottineau also was in need of more space. The bank completed construction on a new building this summer and decided to solve the city’s space dilemma, too, by turning over the keys to its former building for a new city hall. The transfer of the building officially occurred earlier this month, the Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/1dMvhRL ) reported.

Thanks to the bank’s generous donation, the city is acquiring a building about three times the size of its current office space. The single-level building provides better accessibility than the second-floor offices in the armory. The building is wired for Internet and has a new furnace. The bank even left all its oak furniture as a gift.

Mayor Ben Aufforth said there was no hesitation when the bank made the donation offer.

“We had to get council approval. The first meeting, right away it was ‘yes, accept the building,’” he said.

The city will have the expense of some remodeling, but the cost savings over building new runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Aufforth said. The remodeling is necessary to meet handicapped-accessibility requirements and enlarge a board room, but for the most part, the building already is well suited for city offices. Even the drive-up and outside deposit drop-off will be useful for convenient bill payments by residents.

Aufforth said the city hopes to finish renovation to allow its staff of four to move in by September.

The city is considering renting out its existing space in the armory. Other portions of the armory will continue to be used by the National Guard, as a shelter and as rental space.

Building donations are nothing new to State Bank, which had given away another building in April 2014 to the Bottineau Veterans Association. The previous building, used by State Bank for services crowded out of its main bank, sat at the corner of Main Street and Highway 5. It was relocated to city-owned property leased by the veterans, and the bank’s new 11,000-square-foot building was constructed on the site. The new bank that opened June 16 brings the banking, investment center and insurance agency under one roof.

State Bank president Pat Artz said an awareness of the community needs led board members to propose the two building donations.

“The benefits of donating far outweighed selling, we thought, in both cases,” he said.

The donation to the city has significant financial benefits.

“This is going to save real-estate taxpayers of the city of Bottineau, every one of them customers and non-customers, potential customers,” Artz said.

The wisdom of the decision to donate to Bottineau County Veterans has been evident in the facility the veterans have created for themselves through a lot of hands-on work and community support.

“It’s beautiful,” Artz said “It’s an awesome place.”

Without the help from State Bank, veterans groups likely would still be without a building, said Al Wondrasek, director for Bottineau County Veterans, a coalition of community veterans groups in the county. Am-Vets, Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion and VFW Auxiliary share the use of the building. The Bottineau County veterans service office also as an office in the building.

Wondrasek said Bottineau County Veterans received a bargain from Huwe the House Mover and support from several area contractors, who helped get the building into operation while charging little or nothing. Veterans themselves donated time and labor to prepare the building for occupancy.

By last October the building was settled on its new foundation and a new tin roof and siding were installed. Wondrasek said plans remain to brick the front.

“We have come a long, long way from April of last year,” he said. “We have had remarkable monetary donations that have allowed us to do this and allowed us to plan.”

While the veterans and city officials are feeling blessed, employees and customers of State Bank are pleased to have an attractive new bank. There are two lanes of drive-up rather than one. The design includes a more open lobby with skylights to bring in natural lighting. The original safe from the Souris branch sits in the lobby as an artifact of bank history.

The bank originally opened in Souris in 1901. In 1967, it relocated to 514 Thompson Street in Bottineau, taking over a building that had previous use as a grocery and as a bakery. The building had been added onto over the years, serving as the main bank until the new building opened this year.

The interior of the new bank displays the textured wall art of Cleo Yoder of Wolford. The artistry reflects the Bottineau areas in scenes of of cattle, farm machinery, an oil pumper, construction and the Annie’s House lodge at Bottineau Winter Park.

David Lynnes of Bottineau constructed the brick archways on the two south entrances into the bank to mirror the entrances of the original bank in Souris.

The single story building, with partial basement for storage and mechanical room, is heated and cooled using geothermal technology. The project was designed by JLG Architects, built by Northwest Contracting and C&C Plumbing, all of Minot, and Home & Electric Solutions of Bottineau.

Artz said an open house will be held later this summer or in early fall.


Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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