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Commission OKs $300,000 for courthouse renovations

The McDuffie County Commission approved almost $300,000 for the first of two phases to renovate the McDuffie County Courthouse.

The commission took the action Aug. 3.

Commissioner Paul McCorkle asked for a roll call vote and was the only commissioner to vote against the proposal presented by program manager Judson Bryant of Bryant Associates. The change to the existing contract allows Augusta-based R.W. Allen to move forward. County Manager Don Norton said the building should be ready for use by the end of the year.

Bryant told commissioners it would probably be about eight weeks before R.W. Allen and its contractors have the equipment necessary to install the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units. Once those are put in, Norton said, the work would begin on putting in a new roof and some new electrical systems.

"Unfortunately, there's going to be a lull period in there," Norton said.

The money for the project comes from a previously approved portion of the bond fund set aside for the renovations, and that money is required to be spent by Dec. 18. The time crunch created by that deadline was the primary reason that Commission Chairman Charlie Newton and other commissioners gave for approving the change to the contract and denying McCorkle's request that the work be put out for bid.

Bryant assured commissioners that the county is getting a good deal for the project, although he admitted that some unique factors raised the price of the roofing and electrical work. He added that the $297,826 cost is probably conservative, and that the contract stipulates that price cannot be exceeded.

The largest cost of the project is the four HVAC units, which Bryant said would get the highest possible Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The other electrical renovations are also designed to make the courthouse as efficient as possible.

"The goal is to make the building environmentally sound using systems of the least energy consumption," Newton said.

Norton said the change to the contract leaves a little more than $150,000 from the bond fund to be used for some final structural changes, which could include the moving of walls and doors.

Commissioner Bill Jopling said he hopes the county has some money left over from the bond fund when renovations are complete.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, four commissioners agreed to pay four special account invoices for almost $15,000 in various community construction projects from 2009 and 2010, but the motion was withdrawn when commissioners agreed to wait until the return of Newton, who left after the courthouse vote for a meeting in Warrenton. A motion to pay the bills had failed at the commission's last meeting for lack of a second.

The commission recognized Solid Waste Director Don Clauson, who has spent 20 years with the county.

The commission recognized as Anita Cummings, who recently replaced James Ison on the McDuffie County Hospital Authority.

After Newton left, the remaining four commissioners approved six different road paving projects, and an alcohol license for the Boys & Girls Club Golf Tournament to be held Sept. 12 at Belle Meade Country Club.

Web posted on Thursday, August 11, 2011

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