County departments to clear out of courthouse for HVAC work

A $1.36 million overhaul of the HVAC systems at Cherokee County Courthouse will cause many offices to vacate the building temporarily.

All county departments occupying the Cherokee County Courthouse are expected to vacate the premises by the end of the year to accommodate a $1.36 million HVAC renovation. 

Auditor Kris Glienke told the Cherokee Chronicle Times the move would be temporary, though it might last for much of 2023 for all county offices. An exact move-out date hasn’t been determined because the county hasn’t had a pre-construction meeting with its HVAC contractor, L&L Builders of Sioux City. In July, the board inked a contract with L&L to retrofit the courthouse’s HVAC system for $1.36 million. 

“The board is meeting with the HVAC contractor on Thursday. At that point, we’ll have a better idea what the schedule will be,” Glienke said on Wednesday. 

Glienke expects all offices to move out by Jan. 1 and move back in five months afterward. The board, she said, didn’t want to create confusion about which services would be available at the courthouse through the course of the renovation. The renovation is comprehensive, which means some offices wouldn’t have access to the HVAC system while the renovation was in progress. 

“The board didn’t want to get into a discussion about which county offices would be moved and why some were at the courthouse and others were at a different location,” Glienke explained. “There would be a lot of confusion.”

The board hasn’t determined where the offices will relocate, according to Chairman Rick Mongan. The board has discussed relocating to the Immaculate Conception Catholic church campus, the vacant Harley-Davidson dearlership near the intersection of Hwy. 3 and Hwy. 59, the vacant Shopko building and the Cherokee Community Center on West Bluff Street. 

The leading location among the candidates is the county’s warehouse at 322 Lake St., home to emergency management’s equipment and Trivium Life Services. On Tuesday, the board directed County Attorney Ryan Kolpin to draft a notice to terminate Trivium’s lease in the county-owned warehouse. Kolpin declined to say why the county directed him to research terminating Trivium’s lease. He acknowledged the board was mulling a temporary move from the courthouse, but he wasn’t sure where the new temporary location would be. 

Mongan maintained the board hasn’t made a decision about where the courthouse facilities will move. The board directed Kolpin to research the matter, Mongan noted, because the county never signed a formal lease with Trivium. The county and Trivium were operating on Lake Street on a month-to-month basis, Mongan said. 

“We made a gentlemen’s agreement with them,” Mongan said of the county’s lease with Trivium. He said the action on Tuesday has no bearing on whether the courthouse will move the courthouse facilities to Lake Street. “We’re not sure they should move out. We want to get an idea of what building we’re going to use before we make any decisions.”

IT Director Stu Hogg said the board would actually move all courthouse offices to the Lake Street warehouse because it has the space to house them, and its IT/electrical infrastructure is compatible with the offices. A major advantage is that the facility is county-owned, Hogg said, which means the courthouse offices can move there without major changes to its internal communications systems. Glienke said a major problem with the other facilities the board researched was availability — the church denied the county’s advances to move into the old Catholic school — and compatibility with courthouse offices. 

“When you’re doing a move, even a temporary one, you have to think about internet availability, phone availability, security,” Glienke said. “There were issues with a lot of the ones the board looked into.”

The only courthouse office that won’t move to Lake Street, Hogg added, is district court, which will move to the sheriff’s office. Peggy Frericks, administrator of Judicial District 3A, confirmed the district court clerk’s office will move in January, but she did not know where. 

“District court’s facilities will remain accessible when the move happens,” Frerick said. “We’re working with the county to find facilities on a temporary basis.”