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Justice Center construction moves forward

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

After months of negotiations and one false start, work is finally ready to begin on the remodel of the Caldwell County Justice Center.

Having reviewed bids from at least six area contractors last week, architect Thom Earnest approached the Commissioners Court on Monday morning ready to make a recommendation, grant the

contract and move forward with construction.

By his own admission, when he prepared the request for bid, Earnest used “boilerplate language” that caused some complications for local contractors. The language used included an umbrella insurance policy of $5 million to protect the County from liability associated with the job. Only one of the responding contractors included the policy in the bid, at a cost of nearly $13,000.

“In this price range, in a $150,000 job, I wonder if we really need that kind of coverage,” Earnest said. “I think the umbrella policy on the jail is $5 million, it’s basically a dollar-for-dollar amount.”

With the umbrella policy removed from the equation, the low bidder on the contract was Sims Construction, a local company which recently formed an agreement with Free Bird Construction, the winner of the original bid.

Earnest alluded to the idea that part of the reason for the cooperative agreement between the two companies with respect to the Justice Center remodel project was Free Bird’s inability to acquire a performance bond, which caused the termination of a contract and forced the county to go out for a re-bid.

Earnest had not checked references on Sims Construction, as requested by the Commissioners last week, but Commissioner Joe Roland said he had knowledge of the company and felt it is a good choice for the project.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t check the references,” Commissioner Neto Madrigal said. “With a difference of $400-500 in these bids, although Commissioner Roland’s word is good, I think the references are really important in making a good choice.”

Commissioner Tom Bonn shared Madrigal’s concern, as did County Judge H.T. Wright, who also felt it was time to move forward with the project.
The contract, in the amount of approximately $141,500, was awarded to Sims Construction by a narrow vote, with Bonn, Wright and Roland supporting the measure, and Madrigal and Commissioner Charles Bullock voting against.

In other business, the court reviewed bids for the purchase of four new pickup trucks for the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department.

The bids received, ranging in price from $21,000 – $23,000 per vehicle, came in from vendors both locally and statewide. However, because the original request for bid did not specify whether the vehicles should be year model 2008 or 2009, not all the bids were for the same equipment.

After an initial suggestion that two of the vehicles be purchased from a bidder in Luling and the other two from a bidder in Lockhart, it was decided it would be best to advertise for another bid, this time specifying that interested vendors should quote prices on both 2008 and 2009 year models.

In brief news:
The Court opted to leave an outdoor burning ban in place.

They appointed a committee to discuss the County’s current cell phone policy, with the hopes of revising the policy on cell phone usage in the near future.

The Commissioners heard a presentation from Bonn and representatives from Motorola and the City of Lockhart regarding the Public Safety Interoperability Commission Grant Project.

Wright read a proclamation recognizing November as Home Care and Hospice Month.
The County paid bills in the amount of 107,610.97, which includes $13,272.90 in indigent legal defense.

The Caldwell County Commissioners meet on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.

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