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County purchases bank building
January 09, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - The former McConaughy Discovery Center on 10th St. will house the District 12 Probation Regional Reporting Center.

At their Dec. 30 meeting, the Scotts Bluff County Board of Commissioners agreed to purchase the former McConaughy Discovery Center to house the District 12 Probation Regional Reporting Center.

The building, which previously housed the First National Bank Gering office, is located across 10th Street from the county administration building. While the finalized contract still needs to be worked out, the county agreed to buy the building for $220,000, well below its resale value.

The probation office has been working with the county for years to find a new home for its offices, currently housed in both the courthouse and administration building.

There had been previous interest in purchasing the former Aurora Loan building in Scottsbluff. The county also considered remodeling the old county jail for office space, but both of those options proved to be unaffordable.

“Our estimates to remodel just the first floor of the old jail was between $600,000 and $800,000,” said Commissioner Ken Meyer. “For the money we have, I think this is a good investment.”

After the public hearing and unanimous approval of the purchase, the county will close on the property in 30 days.

District 12 Probation Executive Director Linda Buehler said she was “ecstatic” with the decision. “It’s my responsibility to meet the needs of my officers so they can do their jobs,” she said. “We’re finally moving toward that.”

Her office has added six additional juvenile probation officers to comply with recent state legislation that turns more juvenile cases over to the counties.

Thirteen probation staff, now housed in the county courthouse, will be moved into the new building, which will include separate entrances for juvenile and adult clients. The added space will also allow for additional programming, such as counseling and GED programs. That programming was problematic in the county administration building because of other offices and the need to be open at night and on weekends.

Despite the move to a new building, some probation office personnel will still need to remain in the county administration building.

Commissioner Sherry Blaha said she was disappointed the probation office couldn’t move its entire operation into the new building. She hoped that could be accomplished over time.

“I agree with Sherry,” said Commissioner Steve Stratton. “I’d like to see probation come up with a configuration where we could alleviate their need for space in the county buildings. There are other offices that also need extra room.”

Buehler said her office last year received a $38,000 grant from the Nebraska Crime Commission and she’s working on another grant. This year, $109,000 in grant funding is available for Scotts Bluff County. All or a portion of those funds, if granted, would help defray the expense of purchasing the building.
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