(11/18/2009)
Calhoun's $5.2 million water extension project that could bring service to a 21-mile stretch of the county, is clouded by a list of contentious problems as long as your arm.

There is a heavy agenda for a Mt. Zion Public Service District meeting Friday evening at the Arnoldsburg Community Building, scheduled for 6 p.m.

PSD attorney Robert R. Rodecker will issue an opinion regarding bid extensions, linked to an extension issued by Ron Lane, Inc. to January, 2010, which has apparently been denied by officials because of language indicating conditions related to increasing contractor costs.

Lane said he has not withdrawn his bid, indicating "I would like to reassure the Mt. Zion PSD of my company's interest."

Lane's withdrawal was variously interpreted from what has been described as confusing statements at last week's meeting.

He said his bid, brought into question by USDA Rural Development, does have a "change order that would cover price increases in materials only."

Lane was the low pipe bidder, $200,000 less than Bruce Allen, when bids were opened.

Lane's original bid was based on locked-in prices for pipe, which he said made him a competitive bidder.

Project engineer Jim Hildreth recommended that Lane's bid not be accepted, based upon his concerns regarding Lane's performance. Lane reminded the PSD that his work performance is under bond.

Another contentious issue is that the PSD board appears to have voted 2-1 to award Lane the bid, but the award was apparently misinterpreted or not recorded.

Among the nine items, the PSD will be hearing advice from an attorney regarding their contract with project engineer Hildreth, more specifically rate increases to his contract that were allegedly approved but not voted upon by the board.

That addendum to Hildreth's original contract appeared to increase his compensation over $100,000.

During last week's PSD meeting, it was learned that no records exist where the board voted on the matter, although a signature was apparently affixed to Hildreth's contract for the increase.

Another item indicates the PSD will review Hildreth's recommendations regarding the best way to bring the water project to construction, although new board member Roscoe Gainer, at last weeks meeting, indicated if the project was re-bid, "It is not our intention to hire him."

The board is also seeking input from federal agencies regarding the matter.

At last week's meeting, secretary-treasurer Wilma Mace did not appear nor was an agenda she was holding made available.

Following a number of problems between the Calhoun Commission and Mace, most notably her failure to produce board records, the commission asked the West Virginia Public Service Commission to investigate.

Earlier, problems surfaced over the obtaining of right-of-ways for the project, after which the Calhoun Commission intervened to get the project unstuck.

Board members told Calhoun commissioners they were not aware of the right-of-way problems, nor had they been advised by Mace.

Board member Shirley Mace said last week, "The people need the water and we're going to do everything we can to see they get it."

FRIDAY'S AGENDA

1. Advice of counsel in regard to engineering contract and its addendum.

2. Receipt of the recommendations of project Engineer James B. Hildreth in regard to the best way to bring the water project to construction.

3. Receipt of the opinion of counsel, Robert Rodecker, as to bid extensions in regarding to Contract 1.

4. Receipt of opinion of counsel, Thomas Whittier, in regard to the bid extensions regarding Contract 2.

5. Receipt of the input of USDA Rural Development, if any, in regard to any pending matters in the current water project.

6. To approve addendum to Engineering Contract.

7. To approve an agreement with bond counsel.

8. To approve an agreement with local counsel.

9. To vote on any decisions made as a result of information received in any of the above matters. - Sharon Postalwait, Chairperson

See related story   MT. ZION PSD BOARD DID NOT APPROVE ENGINEER'S RATE INCREASES - Ron Lane, Inc. Bid In Jeopardy, Top Priority To Get Water


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