ELKHORN — Crews building Walworth County’s new health and human services center have weathered a rugged winter season and pushed the project past the midway point toward completion.
The new two-story facility under construction east of the county courthouse on County Road NN also might end up costing taxpayers less than the original $24 million price tag.
County engineer Joe Kroll said officials have identified possible cost savings, in addition to keeping the project on schedule and delivering a solid foundation for the new building.
“We’re in pretty good shape,” Kroll said. “We’ve really hit a good stride here.”
Work began on the 77,000-square-foot health center in September, and crews are progressing toward a scheduled completion date of Nov. 22.
The facility will replace the county’s existing health and human services center, located at W4051 County Board NN, which provides services in public health, mental health, substance abuse, behavioral health and children and families.
County officials have said the the 50-year-old center is outdated and inefficient.
County Supervisor Kenneth Monroe, chairman of the county board’s health and human services committee, said he has been impressed at the progress of the construction project.
Monroe, whose committee has received regular updates, said considering the size of the project, he is surprised construction crews have avoided any significant glitches or delays.
“Everything’s going good,” he said. Looking ahead to the completion this fall, he added: “It’ll just be a beautiful sight.”
The two-story center will include intake areas, conference rooms, an auditorium, a cafeteria, and other departments amenities.
Led by general contractor Miron Construction Co., based in Neenah, the building effort includes about 35 subcontractors and currently has about 40 to 50 crew members on site daily, on average.
Miron project manager Jack Zwicker said the building team worked intently with county officials in advance of the groundbreaking to plan the construction schedule. That planning work has helped to minimize issues and allow for smooth progress, Zwicker said.
“It’s really all paying off,” he said.
The project has enjoyed a little luck, too, where the weather is concerned.
Although crews encountered some extreme winter weather, they basked in mild conditions through December, which gave them time to get much done. By the time inclement weather hit in January and February, crews already had a roof on the structure and were able to work mostly indoors.
That allowed Miron to keep the interior heated so that work could continue with virtually no interruption all winter.
“We caught a break,” Zwicker said.
With more than six months left, the arrival of spring clears the way for Miron and its subcontractors to turn their attention to brick work on the center’s exterior. That will be followed by concrete work, sidewalks and parking lots.
Inside workers are beginning to erect interior walls and complete mechanical systems, which will be followed by interior finishes, painting, carpeting and furnishing.
Kroll said the project has undergone a few minor adjustments along the way.
The roof in the auditorium was changed to include more openness, and a county decision not to move child support operations out of the courthouse has allowed room to redesign some offices in the new health center.
Kroll said although it is too soon to estimate the final price tag, he expects the project to end up costing less than the original $24 million.
Advance planning on the project was a good strategy, and Miron’s team has been helpful in implementing minor adjustments mid-construction, Kroll said.
“We’re making improvements as we go,” he said.
Zwicker said construction officials are aware of the new health center’s importance to Walworth County. Understanding the vital public services that wiil be performed there, he said, gives the crews added incentive for putting forth their best effort.
Working virtually across the street from the old health center, Zwicker said he can also see why the county decided to build a new facility.
“It definitely shows that this is very needed for the community,” he said.