Commissioners delay release of new jail construction bids

The Sullivan County Commissioners delayed pulling the trigger on

starting the construction bid process for the new jail project at

their recent meeting.

If you recall, the Sullivan County Council has been waiting until all

questions — mineral rights and any easements — are answered before

purchasing a property for the new jail site, located east of Section

Street just north of Sullivan.

"The council's attorney (Lucas Rowe) has asked us to go back on the

possible underground mineral rights, and on the surface, whether

anybody has rights," Commissioner Ray McCammon said. The commissioners

were discussing their options with Garmong Construction

representatives, the new jail construction manager.

"Eric (DLZ architect Ratts) didn't know whether we wanted to move

forward with the bidding process," he added, noting commissioners'

president Bob Davis was reluctant too.

"I told Bob if something comes back and we're not able to buy this

property, we're going to bail these bids anyway because they won't be

with this property," McCammon said. "We'll be going someplace else and

things will change."

McCammon said he was inclined to go ahead and bid it, "because if they

don't accept the bids because we didn't get to buy the property, then

we're going to be way over a year out to start again somewhere else.

Am I thinking wrong?"

A representative of Garmong Construction asked what the timeframe is

to get closure on the question of mineral rights and easements. The

commissioners estimated about two weeks.

"Because if we think it's just a couple of weeks, my suggestion would

be let's just hold off on putting it out to bid for a couple of

weeks," he said. "We don't want the scenario that we go out and

generate all these bids and they expire.

"Let's say we stick with the property and they all (the bids) expire,

then what you've done is expose everybody's numbers and it will start

to limit competition and those good values and bids we get, we might

not get a second time."

Davis anticipated coming to a decision by the end of the month.

"But anticipating, you know how that goes?" he added.

"So it sounds to me you'd like to see us get it out on the street this

month," said the Garmong representative.

"I personally think so, yes," McCammon replied. "Because I can't see

that there's any problem with this property. I just don't see it."

McCammon asked commissioners' attorney Terry Modesitt to look into the

situation.

"Well it sounds to me like if you guys think we're going to get

through this," the Garmong rep said.

"I think we feel like it, our lawyer feels like it," Davis replied. "I

mean Ray does, John commissioner Waterman), I think we all feel we're

all going to get through it, but I'm just a little uncomfortable when

we're talking about it and we don't own the property."

McCammon said the bond process was also a concern.

"What I'm worried about now is screwing up all the timelines," Davis said.

"Do we want to hear back from the title company, then pull the trigger

based on what they're saying?" the Garmong rep asked.

All agreed they would wait to hear from the title company.

In other business, Sullivan County Health Department Health

Coordinator Jennifer Stinson said they were in the process of a

filling a School Supplemental Grant-funded position for a liaison

nurse who would be hired to be a direct contact with the schools and

make sure they are recording the COVID cases.

"And also make sure everyone is up on all their other vaccines,

provide vaccine clinics," she added.

"This will just be another body in your office to help basically what

you're already doing now?" McCammon asked.

"Yes," Stinson replied.

"I will make a motion to support the grant," McCammon said.

All three commissioners — McCammon, Davis and Waterman — voted in favor.

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