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Griggs commissioners challenged over courthouse

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. -- Griggs County voters will go to the polls today to decide if all five county commissioners should keep their jobs.

The commissioners are being challenged in a recall election prompted by their decision earlier this year to build a $3.5 million courthouse and emergency operations center despite voter rejections of three separate ballot measures.

Here are the candidates:

* District 1: Incumbent, Ron Halvorson; challenger, John Wakefield.

* District 2: Incumbent, Ronnie Edland; challenger, Shawn Steffen.

* District 3: Incumbent, Dennis Halvorson; challenger, Ron Dahl.

* District 4: Incumbent, Keith Monson; challenger, Troy Olson.

* District 5: Incumbent, Robert Johnson; challenger, Dale Pedersen.

Voting takes place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the county courthouse in Cooperstown, the Griggs County seat with a population of about 960.

Construction is underway on the new courthouse and emergency operations center.

The one-story facility is being built just to the south of the existing building, which is the oldest county courthouse in North Dakota still in its original use. Built in 1884 for about $30,000, the three-story building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

However, county officials say the old building has serious health, accessibility and structural issues, which, they argue, are too costly to justify the expense of repairing.

The county social services and sheriff's department were forced to move out of the building in 2011 because of mold that was found on the bottom floor. Since then, mold has been found elsewhere in the building.

Project opponents have claimed the mold problems have been exaggerated.