Proceed with Jefferson County Courthouse Renovation Project | News, sports, jobs

Steubenville — the third time was the charm of Jefferson County Commissioners, who on Thursday opened bids for third-floor courtroom renovations — and fell within the engineer’s discretion.

As long as there are no errors in the bid documents, the commissioners may finally be on the path to awarding the contract – and that, they say, is good news.

After the meeting, Commissioner Dave Maple noted that it is difficult to get contractors to bid on projects, and when they do bid, their bids usually exceed the engineer’s estimates. As per the rule, bids must fall within 10 percent of the engineer’s discretion or be re-discussed.

“You can see that all (the county engineer) bids were high,” Maple said. Escape from the fire took so long because we couldn’t find contractors to bid on it, and so did the courtroom. I see it’s becoming a bit of a trend — prices are going up on all of our projects.”

The fire escape project took more than two years to reach the construction stage, in part because it involved removing and treating lead paint from the inside of the old structure. The courtroom renovations had to be resubmitted twice – they came in well above the engineer’s estimate on the first round, and the second time the contractors pulled out because they couldn’t line up the craftsmen with the carpentry skills needed to complete the job.

Bids opened for the third time Thursday. This time, three companies submitted bids:

– Cattrell Cos. Inc. of Toronto, $328,700 base offering;

– Waller Corp. Washington, Pennsylvania, base bid of $312,300; And the

Fort Steuben maintenance, base bid $299,500.

The engineer’s estimate was $335,000, which included an estimate of design changes that would be requested if funding allowed.

Bids for this additional work, which would include a plaster railing, a crown molding over the judge’s table and two chandeliers, were Cattrell, for $9600; Waller, $16,800, and maintenance of Fort Steuben, $7,000.

The commissioners referred the bids to the engineer for recommendation.

“After having to bid to the courtroom three times, it was nice to see three bidders,” Commissioner Tony Morelli said. “Assuming the bidding documents are in order (we can move forward).”

Meanwhile, the commissioners were reminded that crews would begin preparing for fire escape renovations on July 1.

“We will close the car park for fire escape work,” Patrick Boyles, county maintenance supervisor. “Most parking lots will be closed.”

Weather permitting, he said, the work should be done in September — adding that if things stay on track, it could coincide with the timing of the courtroom renovation.

Boyles also told the commissioners that the parts he needed to restart the fountain in front of the towers building should be by August.

“He hasn’t worked in years,” Morelli said. “We’ve got new tenants coming in. We’re working on paving the parking lots, cleaning the windows, bringing a little bit of life back to the fountain, and moving it back to where it was.”

Mabel noted that the towers building has a strong base of tenants and revenue.

“It really generates enough to make up for that and add to downtown Steubenville, which has always been a small part of what we’re working on with the Towers building. We originally wanted to stop paying rent (for county offices) and now we have a great mix of public and private tenants,” he added.

After receiving assurances that their money would be spent in Jefferson County, the commissioners agreed to use the county’s $50,000 of US Bailout Act funding to study the feasibility of a broadband expansion project. The study will be conducted through the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Commission on Urban Planning.

Morelli said the Jefferson County Broadband Task Force will be looking for a company to manage the project.

“Part of their job requirement is to research ISPs and seek grants to address access to broadband, high-speed broadband, throughout Jefferson County,” He said.

“Broadband in the county moving forward,” Morelli said. “We are sending out RFPs so we can appoint a project manager to guide us through the next phase. Although the process is slower than I would like, we are moving in the right direction.”

Maple said “I feel like it’s still moving very slowly.”

“There has to be a faster way to get broadband for people,” he said. He said. I’m not saying it’s a government job, it’s a private industry. But if they’re going to spend government money to get people’s broadband, just do it.”

They also accepted correspondence from Bricker & Eckler, the county’s ARPA advisor, regarding petitions for consideration of funding – Sycamore Youth Center, county slip repairs, engineer Jim Branagan, recommended locker room repairs at the county service complex and Toronto EMS – Although they offered no hint as to whether the company believed any of the entities might actually qualify.

“Just looking at these requests briefly, we continue to encounter a pattern of nonprofits not showing lost revenue (due to COVID) or being in an eligible counting area,” Maple said.

Auditor EJ Conn also told the commissioners that they had spent about two-thirds of the $25,000 they had set aside for Bricker & Eckler’s power of attorney.

“I’m not surprised it’s that high,” Note Morelli. “I think we, as commissioners, need to agree on a project, and then send it to them.”

Mabel referred to the company’s research and interpretations “Inclusive.”

In other matters, commissioners:

– Accepted Pranagan’s recommendation to reject both bids for the Map Chamber Project. Cattrell Cos bid $91,300 for the contract, and Border Patrol in Hopedale for $70,548. However, Catrill came in well above the engineer’s estimate of $65,000, and the Border Patrol erred in the bid documents. The commissioners said the project would now have to be re-advertised.

Also on Branagan’s recommendation, a vote was voted to schedule viewings and hearings to evaluate petitions for a road construction in Island Creek Township on State Route 213 about 200 feet south of the Pleasant Hill Volunteer Fire Department north to Old Elementary School, and another to clear a road in Smithfield Township in South end of Second Street.

A bid for bids has been approved for the Jefferson County Road 49 bridge replacement project, which will replace the existing 55-foot single-lane structure with a two-lane steel structure on reinforced concrete trusses.

The Jefferson County Agricultural Society has been told that it must seek competitive bids to build a small animal pen if they want county money to help pay for it. The commissioners agreed to fund the project, which is critical to the junior fair, but asked the attorney general for his opinion on whether a bid should be made. Ag community members told the delegates they needed about $88,000 in addition to the $45,000 grant they received.

Attorney General Sean Blake noted that the project far exceeds the bid’s $50,000 bid, and noted that counties are not allowed to do so. “Split a larger purchase into smaller, less expensive contracts to avoid a competitive bidding process.”

– For the second week in a row, I applied to transfer funds from the District Court’s Special Projects Fund to their Contract Services account pending further clarification.

While his projects account has enough money to tap into, commissioners note that the stated purpose — rent increase as well as error handling — represents only about half of the $4,600 required.

“I’d like to table it again, maybe bring someone to the meeting and explain it,” Maple said. This their money comes from their own venture fund. I don’t think it’s fair that they (the auditor’s staff) are trying to explain it.”

Morelli said once the information is “Received and reviewed, I am confident we will go ahead with their order.”

– Three bids have been opened for the District Road 46 Resurfacing project funded by the Ohio Public Commission: Cast and Baker, Canonsburg, $271,952.50; NLS Paving, St. Clairsville, $239,460.80; and Shelley & Sands, Ryland, $222,338. The engineer’s estimate was $199,748.

Bids were referred to the engineer for recommendation.

– During this week, Sanitation Supervisor Mike Eroshevich said crews had taken monthly meter readings; The yard cleanup fixed three leaks—two on Hammondsville Hill, State Route 213, and one for a service leak on County Route 41; And perform plant and collection system maintenance, grass cutting and daily lab tests. Over the next week he said they will execute work orders, schedule taps, clean ups, and mow the lawn.

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