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Douglas County sheriff's office gets relief from heat

Things are heating up at the sheriff's office in Douglas County - literally.

Recent summertime temperatures this spring have revealed a broken air-conditioning unit in the jail administration area. Sheriff Troy Wolbersen brought the item before the county commissioners on March 27.

Two options were presented: Replace the compressor, which uses outdated refrigerant, or replace the entire air-conditioning unit. Johnson Controls and Ellingson Plumbing and Heating submitted cost estimates for each option.

Wolbersen explained that the unit in the jail administration area is almost 20 years old. Eventually the refrigerant that is currently used, R22, will no longer be available. The rest of the air-conditioning units in the jail use 410A refrigerant, a newer green alternative.

The short-term fix would cost $7,375 as bid by Johnson Controls or $8,623 according to Ellingson. Commissioner Dan Olson said it would be a better option to purchase a new unit.

"If we put in a new compressor, we're going to come back very shortly and do the rest of it; it's going to cost us twice," Commissioner Norm Salto said. "Let's do this right the first time."

The board voted 4-1 to allow Ellingson to install a new unit for $21,217, which includes a one-year warranty. Johnson Controls bid $25,615.

Commissioner Bev Bales was initially for the purchase but voted no because the funds to replace the unit were not available in the sheriff's maintenance budget.

"Predicting that the air-conditioning unit was not going to work this spring was not part of the budgeting process," Wolbersen said.

Funds will be used from capital projects to pay for the expense.

Prior to approving the air-conditioning replacement, the board accepted a 2012 boat and water safety grant. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) grant is for $17,997, up more than $3,000 from last year, and will be applied to the water patrol unit. Wolbersen said the grants are based on summer activity two years prior.

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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