County OKs wastewater plant, but covered bridge project needs to be rebid

County OKs wastewater  plant, but covered bridge project needs to be rebid

One bid was accepted, but another was rejected when Holmes County engineer Chris Young met with the Holmes County commissioners at the Old Jail meeting room in Millersburg on Thursday, July 21.

Young’s recommendation to accept the bid of Workman Industrial Services for the Winesburg Sanitary Sewer and Wastewater Treatment Project was accepted, but the bids for the covered bridge project on County Road 23 and Wally Road near Loudonville were denied.

Workman’s bid of $2,991,155 was the lowest among a very competitive series of six bids, and Young said he was encouraged to see the company win the bid because the county has had very good relationships with Workman and the company has produced excellent results.

According to commissioner Joe Miller, Workman Industrial Services built the Mt. Hope plant, and it has performed well.

Young said this portion of the bidding process is only for the wastewater treatment plant and not for the collection system line extensions that would serve the community. That part will be bid out separately, and Young said because the wastewater treatment plant takes longer to construct, the timing should work out well in bidding out the lines later.

“I have meetings with the consultant, and we are going to tweak the estimate price and put it out, probably in a couple of weeks yet, but it should time out well with the treatment plant and hopefully be done basically at the same time and ready to connect and serve the community there,” Young said.

Young said when the county receives multiple bids on a project, the county selects the lowest and best bid, giving the county some leeway to select a little higher bid if it feels the parameters of a higher bid better suit the county. In this case the lowest bid was deemed the best.

“We don’t have to take the lowest bid, but we have to be justified not to take the lowest bid,” Young said.

Young said Holmes County is fortunate to have built some strong relationships with contractors throughout the region and that the contractors recognize they will be treated fairly and honestly by the county.

“They know the way we treat them, and that in turn plays a role in how they treat us with prices,” Young said.

However, both bids for the covered bridge project were more than 10% over Young’s estimated cost of $9 million. Thus they had to be turned down. The lowest bid of the two submissions was $10.5 million.

“Being a county, if bids come in that are 10% over the engineer’s estimate, we legally can’t do that,” Young said.

Young said the county will go back to the drawing board in developing a new estimate, which he said would be around $10 million, and the county will then be open for a rebidding process, which Young firmly believes will produce a winning bid.

The next bid opening date will be Aug. 15, and Young said while the delay will make things tight in terms of construction, it will keep the county in line with its time line to complete the project.

“I think we will have more bidders and more competition next time,” Young said. “We are hoping the price (of material) will come down. The increase in cost from the first estimate was in the wood and the steel.”

He said the contractors were concerned with the time line, which he said the county would extend to 365 days, longer than the original time line of 270 days.

He said once the contractor is selected, which he hopes will be the Aug. 15 date, the idea is for the county to create a meeting for the Loudonville community in which they could introduce the community to the contractor, just to keep people informed.

Young said it is rare for the county to reject all bids on a project, noting the last one came on a sewer project many years ago.

He went on to say many surrounding counties are experiencing similar situations that Holmes County is, with either no bids or bids coming in that are well over the engineer’s estimate.

“It’s unique times,” Young said.

Included in the meeting was a report from Jason Troyer, Holmes County Emergency Management Agency director, who filled in the commissioners on the storm that came through the county on July 20.

While the storm reportedly produced a tornado that touched down near Shreve, damage was minimal, and Troyer said the county will review the way the sirens are utilized during possible damaging weather.

Troyer said currently the sirens are tied in to the National Weather Service, and when it determines a storm is designated as a tornado warning, the county’s siren system automatically kicks in.

“One of our concerns is that if there is no tornado sighted, would the sirens have been activated,” Troyer said. “Right now the answer is no. But we are in the middle of coming up with criteria (to determine when the sirens are used).”

Troyer said that could be 60 or 70 mph winds, but the county will seek to create a scenario that best suits the citizens of Holmes County. He said it is better to be safe than to not set off the sirens.

“Right now if there is a tornado warning deemed by the National Weather Service, it automatically sets them off,” Troyer said. “Outside of that, we have the EMA director, local fire chiefs and the sheriff can manually request the dispatch to set them off. We just don’t yet have the criteria in place that spells out when to do that.”

Troyer, local fire chiefs and the sheriff’s office are going to determine that.

The county has nine sirens placed in towns and villages, and the system has been highly effective thus far in giving communities warnings to seek shelter due to inclement weather.

The commissioners also passed Resolution 07-21-22-1, setting a viewing and hearing date of a public roadway at Hawk’s Landing in Berlin. This is phase five in making the roads in Hawk’s Landing public. The public viewing will take place Aug. 29 at 8 a.m.