Court House Controversy in Griggs County | WDAY
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Court House Controversy in Griggs County

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Griggs County (WDAY TV) -- A group in Griggs County is trying to get a recall election for all 5 commissioners.

This after the commission created a building authority, and decided to put up a new, multi-million dollar court house, a plan voters there rejected 3 times in 14 months.

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The 5 petitions are being reviewed at the Attorney General's office right now, we'll find out as soon as tomorrow if they get approved, then begin to circulate around the county, eventually all 5 commissioners could be up for re-election in just months.

You're looking at history, the oldest, active county courthouse in North Dakota. This 1884 building is on the Nation Register of Historic Places.

"everybody should be really proud of it."

Griggs Chair Commissioner Ron Halvorson says time was running out on a $1-million dollar federal grant, to get personnel out of here and into a new facility. The Sheriff's department and social services have even been relocated out of the building because of mold issues.

The commission created a building authority, made up of the commission and approved plans to build a new courthouse and law enforcement center.

Halvorson: "I think if they have a recall vote they'll see that a lot of people are backing us on this."

Voters knew about the 1-million dollar grant and still voted down similar plans, even less expensive plans. 3 times they voted no from September 2011 to January of this year, The yes vote never even got close to the super-majority needed.

Halvorson: "it's called voter nullification or stealing the vote."

John Wakefield is spearheading the recall election petitions. And he may be the least likely person to do so. He says he never voted for or against a new courthouse, rather enjoys living in a democracy and always trusts the publics vote to be right, he says what happened here isn't a democracy.

Wakefield: "i don't have a dog in this fight. My only contention with all of this is the fact that these commissioners have taken it upon themselves to trample on the stated wishes of the people."

The two sides are now debating where the funding will come from.

Halvorson says they'll get it from different county departments,

Wakefield says it's coming from taxes. They'll get to debate it tomorrow night at a special commission meeting at the high school starting at 6.

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