published Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Jasper settles bidding issue

By Ryan Lewis/Correspondent

JASPER, Tenn. — When city officials opened bids two weeks ago for a massive sewer rehabilitation project, they knew something was wrong with one of the offers.

With an estimated project cost of $165,000, Henley Construction Co. in Sewanee, Tenn., had bid $78,800.

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“Right off, we knew that was way out of line,” said Gary Cosby of CTI Engineers Inc., which is designing the project. He said the business owner submitted a written notice to the town asking to be allowed to withdraw his bid.

“I think it’s pretty obvious a mistake was made,” Cosby said.

The board of mayor and aldermen voted unanimously to release Henley Construction from its bid.

The board had the option of letting the company out of the bid or accepting it and forcing the company to execute the contract. If that happened, Cosby said, the company would forfeit its nearly $4,000 bid bond when it almost certainly would fail to do the work.

“I’ve worked pretty closely with [James Henley] on two other contracts that he got [with Jasper],” Mayor Billy Simpson said. “He’s always been just as straight as an arrow. He’s made a bad mistake, and I’d hate to see him pay anything for that.”

The next lowest base bid was $193,000 from Curl Construction and Excavating in Wartrace, Tenn., officials said.

Alderman Steve Looney asked if Jasper should rebid the project.

“What worries me is the fact that if we do bid it out, the new bids could come in even more,” he said. “We’d been running a big risk.”

The board voted to accept the base bid from Curl Construction as well as an alternate bid that pushed the overall project price to nearly $210,000.

Officials said they aren’t sure where the extra $55,000 for the project will come from.

“We’ll just have to check on the funds,” Simpson said. “It’s got to be done. It’s going to be a lot easier for us to come up with the money than it is to pay the fines from [the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation]. We’ve got no choice there.”

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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