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      Baraga considers moving courthouse to old hospital

      When Baraga County Memorial Hospital moves to its new location in June, it isn't clear what will happen to the current facility. The two-story building is still in good shape, and it has more than 50,000 square feet to offer a new owner. But if no one is interested, the hospital is prepared to spend $400,000 on demolition.

      "The County could acquire it for a buck, says Joseph O TMLeary, Chairman of the Courthouse Improvement Committee. Quite frankly, we're in a 19th century building doing 21st century work. The courthouse has served the county well, but its time is long past."

      According to O TMLeary, an entirely new courthouse with about 30,000 square feet could cost close to six million dollars. As he told Covington residents Tuesday night, the county could actually spend less--between $3.1 and $4.4 million--for one of two different proposals to renovate a considerably large space.

      "I like the one in particular, where they don't tear down the SNU (skilled nursing unit) and they use it as a business enterprise where people could rent space," says Mary Tarvainen of Covington.

      "It TMs a good, sound building, and I think it'd really serve the needs of the county offices," says David Kauranen.

      Of course, the project would require millage, but it would be less than the 2.5 mills people are paying until the end of this year. This project would cost 1.5 mills for 20 years.

      "We TMre really trying to make this something where people tell us they don't want this or they do want this, O TMLeary says. Either way, they take ownership of the result."

      O TMLeary says there will be several more public meetings before a decision is made by the County Board in May. Anyone interested in attending can call the Courthouse (906) 524-6183 for more information. If approved, the millage would likely be on the August ballot.