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St. Croix County building set for demolition

Plans for demolishing the St. Croix County Health and Human Services building in New Richmond are moving forward.

At Monday's Health and Human Services Board meeting, County Administrator Pat Thompson said the aging facility will likely be vacated by employees sometime later in the summer.

The plan is to deconstruct the building by the fall of 2013.

Thompson said the 130 employees who are currently housed in the Health and Human Services building will be relocated to different office space.

He estimated that about a third of those displaced employees would likely end up in county-owned space in Baldwin.

"We're going to utilize every square foot of existing space we can," he said.

It is unlikely that any of the displaced employees will end up with offices in Hudson, as the county's government center is already full, Thompson noted.

Office space for the remaining workers would need to be leased somewhere else in the county, Thompson said.

Lease proposals are being sought from building owners across the county. A pre-bid conference will be held on March 25 to answer questions from potential landlords. RFPs will then be due by April 19, Thompson explained.

The county will review the proposals sometime before May 20, when leases will be approved. The plan is to have employees moved into their new office spaces by Aug. 1.

According to Thompson, the county is looking at "result only work" options that would allow employees to do their work at their place of choosing - whether it's at home, a coffee shop or an office. Providing such flexibility to employees would keep the county's need for additional office space at a minimum, Thompson said.

On a related note, the expected end to the Health Center building does not necessarily mean the nursing home will follow.

Thompson told HHS Board members that plans are being developed for a possible new nursing home facility. Those plans should be ready for approval by early summer.

Board member Fred Yoerg said he has been frustrated by rumors that county officials were dragging their feet on the issue of constructing a new nursing home.

Thompson agreed, noting that work continues on a future new building.

"There's a lot of work being done behind the scenes," he said. "Everything points to a pretty bright future for the nurisng home."