Decision on Baraga Co. offices may be today

A decision on whether to move forward on plans to convert a retail store into new offices for Baraga County could come as early as today.

More than 50 people turned out Friday afternoon to voice concerns about the Baraga County Commission’s plan to purchase the former L’Anse Pharmacy building for use as office and storage space.

The proposal is to buy the building for 260-thousand dollars.

For an additional 150-thousand dollars, present owner Al Hendricks would renovate the building to meet the county’s requirements.

Renovations would be completed before the county took possession, and could be financed as part of the overall purchase.

Former L’Anse Village Council member Linda Kinnunen said that her concerns include the cost of the project, parking limitations, conversion of the most modern retail facility in downtown L’Anse into government offices, and removal of the facility from the public tax roll.

Others questioned the apparent haste with which the project was put together.

County Board Chair Mike Koskinen said the pharmacy building is uniquely suited for the county’s needs, with a dry basement for storage.

He said other options had been considered… including the former State Police post and the former L’Anse Hardware building… but all have serious drawbacks.

The current county building and annex are aging and overcrowded… and storage space is needed for paper records the county is legally required to keep.

A millage proposal that would have enabled the county to purchase and renovate the former Baraga County Memorial Hospital failed twice by large margins.

The Baraga County Board will hold its regular June meeting this afternoon at 5:00 at the Courthouse.

A decision on the proposal could be made at that time.

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