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Public works facility opens for students: Completion date set for mid summer

Press Photo by Nadya Faulx Students from Jefferson and Lincoln Elementary schools receive a private tour of the new, yet incomplete, public works facility Tuesday. Construction is expected to wrap up on the building in late June.

The new Dickinson public works facility opened its doors Tuesday, but only for a select group of visitors: nearly 200 elementary school kids.

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Students from Roosevelt, Lincoln and Jefferson elementary schools were invited to tour the close-to-complete building as part of National Public Works Week, which educates the public about public works services.

“The kids aren’t familiar with public works activities,” said Gary Zuroff, Dickinson public works director. “I had one kid ask me, ‘Is this like Menards?’

“This gives them an idea of what we do.”

Trucks and other machinery were brought in for the first public showing, but the building isn’t in use yet.

Shingobee Builders’ Randy VanHyfte, the project supervisor on the building, said workers will start paving the surrounding land with eight inches of concrete next week.

Construction on the 96,000-square foot, $16 million building started last May but faced several weather delays. The building is expected to be complete by early July.

“It will be good to get it done,” VanHyfte said.

The current public works buildings haven’t been able to keep up with the city’s growth, Zuroff said.

“There’s more infrastructure to maintain, the distances are getting bigger,” he said. “With all new infrastructure, somebody’s gotta maintain it, and that’s where we come in.”

Darryl Wehner, chief street maintenance operator with public works, said equipment has gotten bigger, and the agency “outgrew” the old facility.

“There are so many things we’ve been making do with,” he said.

The new building, located off Energy Drive near Interstate 94, is bigger than both current public works buildings combined — one for street, one for water.

A more formal public tour will be held in late summer, but VanHyfte said the elementary students were a good pick for the building’s first public showing.

“The kids get more of a kick out of it,” he said.