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Courthouse project nears phase one completion

T-R PHOTOS BY LANA BRADSTREAM Marshall County Buildings and Grounds Director Lucas Baedke walks through the room that will hold the board of supervisors meetings later this year. The supervisors will move from the grand courtroom in the courthouse to the first floor.

The Marshall County Courthouse will once again house county employees this spring.

County Buildings and Grounds Director Lucas Baedke said a May date is set for completion of phase one of the courthouse restoration. It will include the east half of the first floor and all of the second floor.

As the scaffolding on the exterior comes down in late spring or early summer, Marshalltown residents might be tempted to gain access to the courthouse, but the fencing will remain. The public will have to be patient a bit longer as the rest of the building does not have a set completion date.

“I am confident we will get everyone in by Christmas,” Baedke said. “Things moved a lot better after the insurance settlements.”

He said even though the county had $1.6 million of code items identified for the courthouse and the Annex, the insurance company agreed to pay $1.25 million.

T-R PHOTOS BY LANA BRADSTREAM As Auditor Nan Benson looks on, Marshall County Buildings and Grounds Director Lucas Baedke points out a beam and post that must be moved 10 inches in order to make room for an ADA-approved restroom in the Marshall County Courthouse. This is just one of the challenges that must be overcome to open the building to the public before 2022.

Now, all of the demos in the interior are done and rooms have been opened, creating more space. The board of supervisors will have a new meeting room and will move out of the grand courtroom in May. The public will not be allowed in physically for the meetings, as the building will still be a construction area. However, a Zoom option will continue.

Auditor Nan Benson said Zoom coverage of the supervisors will continue, especially since there has been improved attendance with the usage of Zoom.

“People don’t have to travel for the board meetings, they can just jump on Zoom,” she said. “It’s really increased our attendance. That’s one of the nice things to come out of COVID.”

Through the huge Marshall County Courthouse project, many smaller challenges have become known and the construction crew is rising to meet them. One of the challenges is a beam and a post which must be moved only 10 inches in order to create an ADA-approved restroom on the first floor.

“When we talk about challenges and what’s taking things so long, we literally have to move a beam and post 10 inches so we can have a bathroom,” Baedke said.

A lot of records have remained housed in the Marshall County Courthouse.

The movement of the beam alone will take two weeks.

The Marshall County Courthouse restoration project is indeed the biggest project Baedke has ever worked on.

“I never thought I would be undertaking a project of this magnitude,” he said, laughing. “This was a $30 million insurance claim. It was massive and absolutely the biggest job I have ever done. It would have been nice to plan for it.”

Normally, construction projects for the county, ones that are estimated to cost around $500,000, take a year’s worth of preparation and planning. After the 2018 tornado tore the Marshall County Courthouse apart, that planning time frame was not an option. And even after the courthouse is completed, there will be other projects requiring Baedke’s attention.

“Other projects have been stacking up for three years now,” he said. “Prior to the tornado, I had one project at the courthouse. Now I have four years worth of work at the sheriff’s office. We are going to roll right in. There is not much of a break when it comes to maintaining facilities.”

Baedke described the Marshall County Courthouse project as his baby and requested people continue to be patient.

“This has been a lot of work and we are trying to manage the progress,” he said. “It is nice to have the support of the public, but there are some people out there with negative views – keyboard warriors – and it is hard to see people say this is taking forever. I just want to remind them that we are working hard and things are getting done. I am more than happy to answer their questions as this has been 90 percent of my job focus. We are working hard to take care of the taxpayer, because I am one as well. That is who we are answerable to.”

Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

The Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting room is still under construction at the Marshall County Courthouse.

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