Proposed Law & Justice building starting to take shape

Thursday, December 23, 2021
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This is one representation of the proposed Law & Justice building. Photo courtesy of A&E

A new Law & Justice Center is taking shape in a very real, tangible way.

Last Thursday, a county-hired team comprised of A&E Architects and Dick Anderson Construction (DAC) presented the first physical look at what the planned Law & Justice Building could look like, along with an estimated price tag.

An estimated project cost of $11,475,640 for the 26,000 square-foot building was given and based on current market budgeting. That initial estimate had been $10.5 million. Approximately $500,000 of that total would likely be covered through grants.

That figure was bumped up by three main factors, said Commissioner Tyrel Hamilton:

•Soil condition

•Foundation system

•More square footage added to the building

The building will house the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office, Adult and Juvenile probation, the Victim/Witness Advocate, Alternatives, the Stillwater County Attorney, Clerk of District Court, District Court and Justice Court.

A summarized, but still fairly detailed, summary of the projected costs were summarized down to two pages. The first page is labeled “Bill of Quantities Report” and contains line items including concrete, masonry, roofing, structure steel fabrication, skylights, sitework, landscape and much more. The subtotal on those is listed at $9,464,530.

There is an additional $2 million in fees, bond payment for the contractor and subcontractor, insurance, contingency escalation, contingency costs estimates and winter conditions/temporary heating. Details can be found on the county's website at


The presentation team will meet again with commissioners in January with answers on a possible alternative and less expensive foundation. Due to the soil quality and the depth of bedrock, H Piling was presented for the foundation. H Piling is not often used and is expensive, but would ensure that the building would not sink, Hamilton explained to the News. That H Piling foundation was estimated to be $437,301. The design team has been tasked with finding an alternative foundation and presenting it to the commission in January.


Before the presentation ended, A&E’s Jason McGimpsey took time to ask each FCIP committee member their thoughts on what had been presented.

Burt Williams had the team calculate the cost per square foot cost, which amounts to approximately $441.37 for the 26,000 square-foot building. Williams also said he was pleased to see an “attention to details” which he was concerned could be overlooked.

Bill Pelton began by saying the committee “had been left out of the process” as of late, but said the team sounded very confident. Pelton asked if there was anything concerning to watch out for.

“I don’t see anything that scares me,” answered DAC’s Shane Flohr, who is the county’s Owners Rep.

Pelton also asked how the remaining of the FCIP projects would be paid for considering the large amount being spent on the Law and Justice Center. The answer was that the “funding wheel” was being looked at again and would presented again at the next meeting in January 2022.

“Can I still tell people we are going to do this without tax money?” Pelton asked.

“I think so,” said McGimpsey.

Pelton also wanted to know if he would live the see the fairgrounds built.

Jim Movius agreed with what Williams and Pelton had expressed, and added that he wants to look at the money “pot” again next month. Movius also said it appeared as if the fairgrounds would likely be the next project undertaken.

“My bottom line is press on,” said Movius.

Maurie Pederson, who is not a FCIP committee member but has been an active participant in the process reminded the group of the mantra of “doing it right the first time.”


To get to this point in the project, the county has paid $984,940 to A&E Design for the design development, construction design and construction development.

The county has also paid $37,500 to Dick Anderson Construction for preconstruction services and $27,000 to SK Geotechnical in Billings for soil sampling for the structural engineering of the site.


The Law and Justice building is one of a handful of projects outlined on the mailer sent to every home in the county this past summer. Approximately 1,033 surveys were completed and returned.

The proposed projects are largely the result of two years work by the FCIP committee, which took a comprehensive look at what is needed in terms of current and future county and storage space. That committee was comprised of citizens and county officials. Efforts to solve the county’s office space problem started at least eight years ago and focused primarily on getting all county offices housed in one central building. Currently, those offices are scattered throughout Columbus as rentals.

Other projects listed on the mailer include a new county office building, new fairgrounds/support facilities, preservation work at the current courthouse and a new library.

Commissioners have repeatedly said they believe at least three phases of the overall proposed projects on the mailer can be paid for with a combination of saved funds (which now totals $11.5 million), PILT and Metal Mine funds (which now totals $2.4 million), capital and wind funds ($4 million) and other sources such as grants.

The only project going forward at this point is the Law and Justice Center.