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Griggs County Courthouse Construction Going Forward Without Popu - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Griggs County Courthouse Construction Going Forward Without Popular Vote

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The people of Griggs County are divided tonight after a decision by the commission. Voters turned down a plan to rebuild the county courthouse three times. But, commissioners are still moving forward with construction.

Valley News Team's Hope Hanselman took a tip from a whistle blower, and traveled to Cooperstown, where both sides met tonight to find a solution.

"we've got the oldest active courthouse in North Dakota," Keith Monson, county commissioner, said. "when you see it you'll understand why a lot of people want to save it."

This historic building will likely not see its 130th summer.

"Three times the voters of Griggs County have said 'no' and elected officials have taken it upon themselves to overturn or trample on that vote," John Wakefield, a concerned citizen, said.

That's because the county commission began plans to rebuild the courthouse, even after voters told them it was too costly of a project for too precious of a landmark.

"I think the majority of the people are just fed up with government telling them what to do," Wakefield said as the high school gym in Cooperstown filled with voters like him, wanting to voice their concerns.

Commissioners say they don't need the popular vote if they can build without raising taxes.

"It was looking like if we didn't get started then, in early December, we weren't going to be able to get it done... Period," Monson said.

But, voters say their voice isn't being heard.

"As a democracy is supposed to run, I hope the citizens realize that they have a say in their government and I hope they rise up and demand that say," Wakefield said.

Now, commissioners are facing the possibility of a recall. But, they say their position was worth the cost of the project.

"We don't like it either, but in weighing the aggravation that we were going to cause by doing this against the fiscal responsibility to the county, we were willing to take the hit," Monson said.

Commissioners say they hope to start pouring concrete in two or three months.

The new courthouse will cost more than $3 million.

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