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County receives estimate from insurer

Lake County recently received an estimate from its insurer to replace or repair the Highway Department's facility on Highway 2 in Two Harbors.

The Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) offered the county more than $1,158,000 for the damage done in a Dec. 14 fire at the garage. County administrator Matt Huddleston said the amount was an initial offer for the damage to the building and the county would be negotiating for what it believes the true value of the damage is. Nonetheless, MCIT's initial offer is the minimum the county will receive for damage caused by the blaze. The offer is just for damage to the building and does not include the amount the county will receive for damage to the equipment and other contents of the building.

The fire originated in a snow plow truck sidelined for repairs in the garage and the flames quickly engulfed the roof of the building. Firefighters spent more than seven hours battling the flames and the damage to the building was extensive. The fire in the truck was quickly extinguished, but the flames in the roof took much longer to put out. The roof was initially a tar roof that had a tin and then a foam roof built over it, making the fire much more difficult to extinguish once it reached the ceiling of the building.

The county's next decision is whether to repair or replace the building on Highway 2. Prior to the fire, the county had hoped to replace the building in the next five to 10 years. It was already not serving the needs of the Highway Department since operators could not move trucks into the shop without first removing equipment attached to the front of the vehicle.

Commissioners Rick Goutermont and Jeremy Hurd were both open to the idea of replacing the building instead of simply restoring it to its original condition, which was already inadequate.

"If it wasn't for broadband, we'd have a new facility already," Goutermont said, referencing Lake Connections, the county's broadband internet project.

Huddleston estimated during the meeting that the cost of replacing the garage with one that better serves the needs of the Highway Department would be more than $6 million.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Silver Bay City Council and high school sports in Lake County. 

(218) 834-2141
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