New highway department building to hold open house

Benjamin Chase of the Plainsman
Posted 10/13/23

Public invited to visit Oct. 17 from 2-4 p.m.

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New highway department building to hold open house


HURON – A project that is 20 years in the making has finally reached the “almost-complete” stage. The Beadle County Highway Department invites the public to come out to the see their new building at 655 4th Street Northwest on Tuesday, October 17 from 2-4 p.m.

Highway Superintendent Jason Fritzsche expressed that the new facility is a long time in coming.

“This has been a priority ask from the department since before I was here,” Fritzsche said. “We started putting some money away in a building fund, and (former commissioner) Larry Mattke was an advocate of getting the building done for some time, saying, ‘it won’t get any cheaper.’”

The initial budget for the project was $4.2 million dollars, and Fritzsche says that the project has remained near that amount. However, some shrewd work by Fritzsche and his predecessor Merl Hanson, along with the support of the Beadle County commission and auditor Jill Hanson, allowed the building to get built without the county borrowing any funds.

The added space inside allows for plenty of work to be done on highway vehicles, such as winterizing county trucks to add blades.

The building offers six bays on each side, five of which are fully drive-through, which was intentional, says Fritzsche. He also notes that the bays are equipped with floor heating and sloped toward the doors to allow drainage to move away from the center of the building to the drains at each door entrance.

The drive-through wash bay does have drainage in the middle of that bay.

Fritzsche pointed out the comfort amenities for 18 department employees, when the department is fully staffed, noting that the meeting/training room in the building will be utilized to hold the annual township meeting and has technology and a kitchenette to support small events and is a spot for staff to grab lunch as well. Highway department staff also have a locker area and shower on a separate entrance away from the “business” entrance of the building.

The main office area provides offices for Fritzsche as well as the foreman and shop mechanic in the department as well as a reception area. Doing a visual estimation of the space, Fritzsche estimated that just his office and the reception area combined are the size of the entire office area in the old building, allowing for more meeting space with vendors and county residents that come into the office.

While many in the county could be worried that the new building’s costs could limit road work being done in the county, Fritzsche says that simply isn’t the case.

“We did about eight miles of overlay this summer, and it cost over one million dollars,” Fritzsche stated. “If anything, we’re doing somewhat less mileage each year because the costs have gone up - and they’re not coming back down.”

The location of the new building does allow the department to close off its “back yard” where trucks are parked, piles of crushed concrete and various dirts are kept, and other items are stored, providing more security against vandalism or theft on county property while also still having space to do needed work indoors on vehicles.

The public is encouraged to come Tuesday from 2-4 p.m. to explore the new facility and enjoy some goodies as well!