Granite Falls

Yellow Medicine County to get new courthouse

Yellow Medicine County is taking bids for the construction of a new courthouse in Granite Falls.

County Board members approved plans for the estimated $5.7 million project Tuesday.

The new two-story facility, which officials are calling the Justice Center, will go up near the original courthouse, built in the late 1800s. It will feature two courtrooms as well as other offices including police, sheriff, probation, county attorney and court administration. The old courthouse will be torn down after employees are moved into the new building.

Officials hope to have new construction completed in the summer of 2016. Construction bids are due April 30.

Pam Louwagie @pamlouwagie


$220 million Hwy. 53 relocation revs up

Construction on Minnesota's tallest bridge is set to begin this fall — once the community on the other side of the bridge signs off on the plan.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is preparing for the costly, complex work of rerouting Hwy. 53 between Virginia and Eveleth. The land under the highway belongs to the mining companies, and the companies need access to the taconite deposits under the road. The state plans to divert the highway over a nearby mining pit, which will require construction of an 1,100-foot-tall bridge into Virginia.

The Virginia City Council has until May 6 to sign off on the plan and local officials asked for one final hearing last week to listen to the state's plan for the project, which is expected to cost as much as $220 million.

According to the Mesabi Daily News, Project Director Patrick Huston told the community that bridge construction could begin in the fall, although there's some doubt the work will be completed in time to meet the May 2017 deadline to abandon the old stretch of highway.



Red Wing mulls community solar power

The city of Red Wing could turn a patch of city-owned land into a shared community solar array.

The Red Wing City Council voted last week to put $2,000 into a financial analysis of the plan to turn the former Central Research property into a solar garden. The city is working with Minnesota Community Solar on the project.

"I haven't heard anybody who doesn't think solar energy is a good idea," Red Wing City Council Member Peggy Rehder told the Red Wing Republican Eagle on Tuesday. "The issue is entirely about where."

Solar gardens allow residents to produce solar energy without placing solar panels on their homes. Instead, they purchase subscriptions to larger community solar arrays.

Jennifer Brooks @stribrooks