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County officials hope to resume construction soon

T-R file photo County officials hope to begin the construction of the Marshall County Courthouse in October. The tentative plan is to reopen the historic building in 2021.

The Marshall County Courthouse has sat in limbo since suffering damage from the July 2018 tornado.

Due to delays and issues with EMC Insurance, there has not been any construction done on the interior of the courthouse. Work will not be able to commence until October, according to Marshall County Building and Grounds Director Lucas Baedke and Marshall County Supervisor Steve Salasek. This is a change from in June, when Marshall County Auditor Nan Benson told the Times-Republican that the county was hopeful work inside the courthouse was going to begin in September.

Then again, not much about the construction has been straightforward or easy.

“We are still accepting bids,” Baedke said. “We do not have approval from the insurance companies to start work on the courthouse interior yet.”

Baedke said multiple bids have been received from contractors, and work will hopefully begin mid-to-late October. Salasek confirmed the estimated start date, and said the line of credit the county was opening — which could be more than $1 million — has allowed the county to work around the difficulties in figuring out if EMC will cover items the county feels they should take care of . . . or not.

Salasek said there is not a set timetable for construction to be completed once it begins.

“Everybody wants to know,” Salasek said. “Everybody’s kind of in temporary facilities that aren’t big enough and just don’t fit our needs at this point. They’ve been good sports about this, but they’re ready to get back in the courthouse.”

He said county employees who were based in the courthouse before the tornado are itching to get back to offices in the building, and the prolonged construction period has not been easy.

Already six months past the original completion date and not having started interior work has been frustrating, but Salasek knows it will be great when it’s done. He said a June 2021 completion date was discussed at a recent meeting but it was not firm, instead calling it “guesswork” at this stage.

Baedke called the finish date is the “question of the month” and said he wished he was able to provide an answer. He added that while the issues with the insurance have been a process, the work has been pressing on to try to finish as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“It’s just kind of the insurance world that we’ve lived in through this entire process,” Baedke said. “I wouldn’t say it’s been frustrating, it’s just a process and we work through it day-by-day.”

There have been ups and downs throughout a difficult summer for the courthouse reconstruction, but there are signs the long wait could at least show progress, Salasek said.

“We’re just asking everybody to be patient here yet,” Salasek said. “We’ll get in there, we’ll get in there eventually.”

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Contact Noah Rohlfing at 641-753-6611 or nrohlfing@timesrepublican.com.

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