NEWS HEADLINES

County to replace jail’s rooftop

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is the last of 11 county buildings to have its roof repaired after an ice storm nine months ago.

While work was being started on the other structures, county commissioners danced around hiring someone for the million-dollar S.O. job before finally giving the nod Aug. 25 to Eikon Consulting, an engineering firm in Sanger.

The hire was made at the recommendation of Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns.

The Sheriff’s Office, along with several other county buildings, was damaged by ice in early December 2013. County Asset Manager Diana Alexander said while she was gathering information and specs to bid the repair work, the county was hit by a severe hail storm in February. When commissioners met in March, they decided to add the hail damage to list of repairs and bid out all the work at once – except for the Sheriff’s Office.

The insurance company said the 106,000-square-foot roof that covers not only the administration offices, but also the Wise County Jail, would need to be replaced.

Alexander said the work on other buildings was in the $200 to $500 range per structure and was easy to describe and put into a bid packet. But the scope of the work required to replace the S.O. roof was much greater and would require the insight of an engineer.

In April, commissioners gave Sheriff David Walker authority to find an engineer for the job.

Over the course of the next few months, Walker made several suggestions, including Southwest Architects, the firm that built the jail, but each recommendation seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Although they never discussed it in a public meeting or elaborated on what firm might be better than those suggested, commissioners continually denied Walker’s recommendations and put off making a decision.

On Aug. 11, commissioners changed the way they had gone about seeking an engineer, and decided to ask for requests for qualifications (RFQs). But by Aug. 19, they had changed their minds again. At a budget workshop they discussed ditching the RFQ request and just hiring someone – which was the original plan. Commissioners attorney Thomas Aaberg said the RFQ process could take too long, further delaying the work, and complicating budget plans for fiscal year 2015.

Walker suggested another firm, Building Envelope Consultants out of Houston, but that suggestion got zero response from commissioners.

County Judge Glenn Hughes acknowledged Walker’s suggestion before addressing Burns.

“Kevin, do you have someone that you know of? Do you have a name?” he asked the Precinct 2 commissioner.

Burns said he didn’t and trailed off explaining that it could be an architect or an engineer.

“Do you have someone in mind, Kevin?” the judge asked, to which Burns replied he did not.

Eikon Senior Project Manager Nathan McQuillan attended that meeting but did not speak.

He also showed up at the Aug. 25 regular commissioners meeting and was hired that day. Commissioners also rescinded their request for RFQs that day.

Burns told the Messenger last week that Eikon was recommended by Denton County Commissioner Ron Marchant, who was pleased with the work the firm had completed on a detention center in his county. He said McQuillan attended the Aug. 19 meeting after hearing from Marchant that Wise County was looking for an engineering firm.

Alexander said McQuillan will write the scope of the project and likely put it into a bid packet.

“He’s our liasion and our representative on this project and making sure our interests are watched out for,” she said.

The insurance company estimated the damage at $820,000, but a third-party engineer told the county it would cost between $1.2 to $1.3 million. County Auditor Ann McCuiston said the insurance company will likely cover any additional expense but not until the work is complete.

Any expenses that occur in the meantime will be covered by capital expenditure money and replaced when insurance money is received.

The county will pay Eikon a percentage of the final construction cost, but those numbers are still being negotiated.

Walker said McQuillan was on the job bright and early Aug. 26.

MORE ROOF WORK

Rock Roofing and Construction LLC completed repairs – some major, some minor – on 10 other county buildings in late July and early August. Total cost was $47,452, all of which is covered by insurance.

The projects included:

  • Juvenile Probation, 401 Rook Ramsey
  • EMS, 1101 W. Rose Ave.
  • Wise County Animal Shelter, 119 PR 4195
  • Courthouse Annex, 205 N. State St.
  • Bridgeport Annex, 1007 13th St.
  • Precinct 1 equipment shed, 1151 N. FM 51
  • Adult Probation, 105 E. Walnut St.
  • Financial Building, 207 N. Church St.
  • Financial Building storage, 207 N. Church St.
  • WARM/Red Cross, 300 N. Trinity St.

*All buildings listed above are in Decatur except the Bridgeport Annex.

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