New and improved

County maintenance building replaces aging structures

-Messenger photo illustration by Joe Sutter This is the larger work space at the new Webster County maintenance building, in this image made from multiple photos. The 50,000 pound capacity lift at right is one of the most popular items, Webster County Engineer Randy Will said, as well as the track crane seen at the far end of the building, which can maneuver over all three bays.

When the roof trusses began to fail, it was clear the Webster County road department needed a new maintenance building.

The problem came about in 2013 on the building at 2096 240th St., the old Otho shed. Every building at that site was either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, Webster County Engineer Randy Will said. The original plan was to replace the equipment repair and storage buildings on the same site.

But Will and others quickly determined that the old site wasn’t adequate.

“The utilities just weren’t there,” Will said. “It was not a big enough site, and it was not well drained.”

To meet state building code requirements. county officials wanted the site connected to city water; the old site had its own well.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter Jesse Becker and Dale Iles walk past county trucks with snowplows stored at the county’s new facility. The building is much larger than the aging location it replaced, and features in-floor heating.

Fortunately the county already owned a suitable lot, and the plan was made to build on 10 acres of county-owned property at 1950 225th St., in the Savage Addition of Fort Dodge.

After four years of planning and work, the $5.7 million complex is now complete.

The public is invited to an open house showcasing Webster County’s newest maintenance facility from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday. County workers will be there to show visitors around, and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance will hold a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m.

The maintenance section of the main building has a higher ceiling than the rest, and features some shiny new tools which have made the workers happy, Will said.

A 10-ton crane can be moved across all three bays, while one of the bays also has a lift with a 50,000 pound capacity, enough to elevate a motor grader.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter Shop Foreman Jesse Becker shows the scrap steel stored at the county’s new building. The old location was much smaller and didn’t have much space for this, Becker said. Welding exhaust tubes can be seen farther back.

“The workers kind of ranked the equipment. That floor lift is their favorite, and the crane is No. 2,” Will said.

Workers once had to crawl under the equipment for routine maintenance that has to be done every so many hours of use.

“We’re able to get two done in a day,” Will said. “Before it took a whole day.”

“It’s been cut in half,” said Jesse Becker, shop foreman.

The building has a hose to pump out vehicle exhaust, and two for use when welding. It’s also much easier to heat in the winter than the old buildings.

-Messenger photo illustration by Joe Sutter Road foreman Dale Iles, shop foreman Jesse Becker and county engineer Randy Will walk from one building to another at the new county maintenance facility in this image made from multiple photos. The main building at left holds numerous bays, including three with a higher ceiling complete with a crane and welding shop. The building at right includes the county sign shop and unheated storage.

“This entire building has in-floor heat,” Will said. “The board (of supervisors) insisted on that, and we’re glad they did. It costs a little more up front, but it’s very user-friendly.”

With inadequate insulation at the old buildings, Becker said “the heaters never shut off in the winter.”

The second building is smaller, and doesn’t feature in-floor heat, which requires a boiler system. Part of it isn’t heated at all, although with insulation it doesn’t get too cold. This building is used for storage, and holds the county’s sign shop. It also includes storage space for the Sheriff’s Department.

The site also has a sizable paved parking lot, a hoop building for storage of road salt and sand, and a 3,000 gallon storage tank, which was moved from one of the previous sites.

The building was substantially completed on Nov. 9, 2017, and the employees moved in. Twelve people work at the site.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter Rick Zimmerman shows some of the many signs waiting for use at the county’s sign shop.

The building work itself was done by Jensen Builders, of Fort Dodge, who were the lowest of four bidders at a June 28, 2016, hearing.

The county sold bonds backed by tax increment financing to get the best interest rate to pay for the site. All expenses will be paid back by the engineer’s department over 10 years, with the final payment due in 2026, Will said.

Five sites were sold as this one came into use: in Burnside, Callender, Gowrie, the Quonset building at the south end of Fort Dodge, and the DeWitt shed a few blocks north of the Salvation Army in Fort Dodge, Will said. These properties were sold for a total of $640,000.

Since 2000, the road department has reduced the number of maintenance facility locations from 13 to 8, and reduced the number of employees from 48 to 43.


Public open house

What: Public open house

When: 4-6 p.m. Thursday

Ribbon cutting: 4:30 p.m.

Where: Otho Maintenance Facility, 1950 225th St., Fort Dodge