Most any time there is a major project undertaken by a city, a county or the state, there are ceremonies that tend to follow to immortalize the moment for posterity. At the Aug. 27 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Government Center was set for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 9.
The ceremony is going to be low-key, consisting of a photo opportunity of dignitaries holding shovels and smiling for the camera. Board Chair Darek Vetsch said there won’t be a lot of bells and whistles at the ceremony.
“It’s a real casual event,” Vetsch said. “Contegrity Group (the building designer), several department heads and the commissioners will go out there with shovels and a pile of dirt and have a photo taken of the ceremonial first dirt being moved on the project. There won’t be any speeches or anything. It’s more ceremonial than anything else. There’s a lot more pomp and circumstance when there is a ribbon-cutting when the building is completed and we have the grand opening.”
The biggest problem the groundbreaking may have is too many shovels and hardhats for the commissioners to wear because it won’t be easy to find a quorum at the groundbreaking.
“There will be two commissioners that won’t be there,” Commissioner Mark Daleiden said – himself and Commissioner Charlie Borrell. “If you look back at the Justice Center groundbreaking, I wasn’t there either. I don’t do photo ops. This one, I won’t be there because I thought we pushed it through a little faster than we should have, but it is what it is.”
Borrell, who was the consistent voice of dissent throughout the process, said he still hasn’t been able to figure out when the project went from being a hypothetical to being green-lit because the board hadn’t voted on it yet.
But, he said that he has learned to pick and choose his battles and has accepted the decision of the board. But, when it comes to a tacit endorsement, he won’t be doing a “grip-and-grin” with a shovel in hand.
“I have no plan on attending,” Borrell said. “It doesn’t do anything for me. It isn’t sour grapes. In six years on the board I’ve learned to put up a fight for the things I believe in, making my argument and then, after a vote is taken, move on. Seeing how the bids came in, there is a scenario where this decision could well make good economic sense for the county. I was against building it now because that’s not me. I don’t believe in piling on debt by doing two major projects one on top of the other. The board voted to go ahead with it, but I don’t plan on being there wearing a hardhat and holding a shovel.”
While the photo op likely won’t have the full contingent of commissioners, given the timing of the bid letting, the ceremony is a reason for celebration.
“There are a lot of positives the came out of this process,” Vetsch said. “We made what we felt was the best decision on behalf of the residents of the county by doing the project now. Bids came in $7 million below estimates and we got a better interest rate than we thought was possible. There are a lot of reasons for this to be a happy day, even if it is just a ceremonial moving of dirt with shovels.”