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Hancock County schools’ athletic field projects on schedule despite bid issues

GETTING AN UPDATE — The Hancock County Board of Education, on Monday, received an update on the status of its planned softball and baseball field projects at Weir High School, hearing from Bob Smith of McKinley and Associates and Jim Sauer of J.T. Sauer and Associates. -- Craig Howell

NEW CUMBERLAND — Although some adjustments have been made, the Hancock County Board of Education continues to move forward on a project which will see new baseball and softball fields built on the campus of Weir High School.

The project was part of the agenda for Monday’s school board meeting, at which time members heard from Bob Smith of McKinley and Associates.

The school board rejected two bids for the projects on May 2, noting costs were higher than anticipated, and authorizing direct purchase agreements for some aspects of the project and new bid packages for others.

Smith noted alternative packages were developed in an effort to keep costs as low as possible.

“We looked at what we could get, bare bones, to get you two fields,” Smith said, noting quotes from interested contractors should be in by the end of the week.

Smith warned, though, there were no guarantees on what kind of proposals would be received, noting economic issues continuing in the construction industries.

“Bidding in this environment is pretty tough,” Smith said.

Board member Chris Gillette raised a question as to whether the new project packages were put together as discussed by the board in May.

“You hear the rumblings that it didn’t go out that way,” he said.

Jim Sauer, of J.T. Sauer and Associates, noted the project was divided into three aspects, with the turf going through a direct purchase option in which they could go directly to companies to get their best possible prices and even negotiate on some areas.

“These are not bids. We are asking for quotes,” Sauer said of the turf installation.

Other physical construction aspects of the field, he said, could go through a bid process in the hopes of attracting more local companies. The third portion of the project, expansion and upgrades to parts of the Weir High School building itself, would have to be bid out and is being handled separately.

Sauer also noted the project is still on schedule to be ready in time for next spring.

“At this moment, there is no delay,” he said.

Board member Michelle Chappell, reminding those in attendance there will be three new school board members beginning next week, recommended an up-to-date timeline for the projects be prepared in order for them to be aware of where the work stands.

In other business, board President Danny Kaser noted the renewal of the school district’s excess levy.

“It expires June 30, 2024,” Kaser said, noting there are a couple of options to put it on the ballot, including this fall or next spring.

Kaser requested it be placed on the agenda for the next board for discussion.

The board also approved several personnel items recommended by Superintendent Dawn Petrovich.

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