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Ethan considers remodeling dairy to serve as city hall

ETHAN -- City leaders in Ethan have two main choices regarding a city hall -- build new or revamp a vacant building. Currently, city employees are housed at Ethan's fire hall and have outgrown the space. The issue at hand is where to temporarily ...

ETHAN -- City leaders in Ethan have two main choices regarding a city hall -- build new or revamp a vacant building.

Currently, city employees are housed at Ethan's fire hall and have outgrown the space. The issue at hand is where to temporarily house employees. At a special meeting Monday, the council agreed to check into renting office space from a property owner in town. Alderman George Puetz will bring information to the regular meeting May 9 on temporary space.

The council will also discuss the future permanent home of Ethan's city offices. The council originally had Ciavarella Design of Mitchell draw up specs for a city hall at the corner of Railroad Street and Main Street. When the estimate came back for that plan, it was over budget at approximately $500,000.

"We wanted to keep it around that $200,000 mark," said Sonya Hespe, city finance officer.

Puetz brought floor plans Monday to remodel a former dairy and Alderwoman Lisa Hjellum brought floor plans for a new building.

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Although the building has been vacant for more than 20 years, Puetz said the former dairy is a perfect spot for city hall, which would include community rooms, a kitchen and garage for the city shop. He had an estimated $194,000 cost for the remodel, but maintained it is a viable project not only to provide space for the city but to save a historic building. The Ethan dairy was the first dairy in the state of South Dakota, said Hespe.

"I think it's a part of the city that needs improvement," Puetz said.

Hjellum brought specs from Ethan Co-op Lumber Association for just more than $50,000 to construct a new building, which would include two offices, a community room, bathroom and storage space. This number does not include any dirt work needed.

"This building would be low, low maintenance and very efficient to run," said Alderwoman Nancy Schoenfelder.

The council kept coming back to one point -- the city has to do something and can't keep putting off the project.

Hespe said the city has enough money budgeted to build a new building as proposed by Hjellum this fiscal year. The lot the city bought in December 2009 at the corner of Railroad Street and Main Street has enough room to build on a city shop in the future, she said.

"The city shop is on the wire to be condemned by the insurance company," she added.

The council will meet again Monday, May 9, at 7 p.m. in the Ethan Fire Hall to discuss further plans for city hall and where the city will rent space for offices.

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