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Commissioners to negotiate building purchase

Boone County Commissioners decided Monday to negotiate the possible purchase of the former SourceGas office building in downtown Albion, rather than pursue a lease agreement for office space in the Albion Professional Plaza.

The board is proceeding with purchase of the former SourceGas building across Fourth Street, east of the courthouse, which is intended to house the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services.

The decision to move Social Services out of the courthouse was made last month when commissioners decided to pursue renovation of the present courthouse building, rather than an addition.

Commissioners had received a five-year lease proposal from Randy Hedlund, owner of the Albion Professional Plaza building, at their April 15 meeting. Hedlund explained that this was the shortest term lease and best rate he could provide.

On Monday, Commission Chairman Tom Schuele said the board “could not get assurances from HHS” on how long the state agency would maintain a Social Services office in Boone County. Without that assurance, and with the need to obtain a Social Services office location before the courthouse renovation can begin, Schuele said the building purchase appears to be the best option for the county at this time.

The board approved a motion authorizing Schuele to negotiate the building purchase on behalf of the county. Commissioner Hank Thieman said the SourceGas building has the advantage of being near the courthouse, and the Social Services office could be located there with only minimal renovations.

The building purchase will be on the agenda for the next commissioners meeting on May 11.