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School board reopens bids on projects

The McDuffie County Board of Education gave the green light last week for a construction-management firm to move forward with the renovation of Thomson's football stadium, the Brickyard.

Superintendent Jim LeBrun had initially recommended that Parrish Construction Group of Perry, Ga., manage the construction of the Brickyard, Norris Elementary and other school projects. But after a representative from R.W. Allen of Athens, Ga., asked the board to postpone its vote on the recommendation at its March 8 meeting, LeBrun offered an alternative. Parrish would oversee construction of the Brickyard, but other projects, including the construction of Norris Elementary, would be reopened for bidding, LeBrun said.

"If there was a perception it wasn't done right, we want to correct it," LeBrun said. "I don't want the perception that we did something wrong. I want to go to the Nth degree. We are willing to change."

LeBrun told the board March 10 that his alternative was an "unusual request, but I'm hoping we can satisfy all parties. Not a single vendor was intentionally left out."

Tommy Goodyear, a senior project administrator for R.W. Allen, said at the March 8 meeting that he had not seen an announcement for bids in the local newspapers, either the legal organ, The McDuffie Progress, or The McDuffie Mirror . The school board satisfied legal requirements, running the announcement for four weeks on its Web site and posting it at the board's building.

LeBrun said R.W. Allen was not a local vendor because its office is in Athens, but Goodyear is an R.W. Allen employee who lives in Thomson.

"I didn't run in the local paper because there were no local vendors," LeBrun said.

In the future, the school district will place advertisements for bids in the newspapers, but LeBrun said it was cost prohibitive to run every bid.

"We want to hire local contractors at every opportunity," LeBrun said. "We want to keep as many dollars in McDuffie County as possible."

Postponing the vote would have meant at least a two-month delay, LeBrun said, and "we want to go ahead with the projects immediately in front of us."

Board member Dexter Lovins said LeBrun's recommendation was a tremendous accomplishment in two days' time.

At the top of the list is the renovation of the Brickyard, which LeBrun would like completed before the start of football season. The renovation includes moving a water main off site, reconfiguration of the bleachers, replacement of the bleachers and updating restrooms, snack bar and field houses. LeBrun said the stadium would have minimum capacity of 6,000.

In other decisions:

Board member Bob Smith was selected as the delegate to the Georgia School Boards Association's Summer Conference and Delegate Assembly June 15-16. Board member Bea Hart-Moss was selected as alternate.

The Board approved the calendar for the 2011-12 school year, which includes 170 student days and 174 teacher days. Options with 180 student days and either 184 or 190 teacher days were available, but LeBrun said reduced days have saved the system money and jobs. The savings amounted to $85,000 a day for certified employees, LeBrun said.

Chad Simmons, the Thomson High School football team's offensive coordinator, resigned to pursue another vocation.

Web posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011

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