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Prestonville agrees to sue building contractor

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Center project put on hold by state officials

By Jeff Moore

Prestonville City Commission voted Monday to take legal action against Can Do Construction of Carrollton to recover alleged damages in the construction of its recreation building and city hall.

Commissioners instructed City Attorney Alecia Gamm Hubbard to file suit to get back money on the project for repairs they say will be needed, citing poor-quality workmanship.

“It’s terrible,” Commissioner Wilk Hoskins said.

Kentucky’s Division of Building Code Enforcement has issued a stop-work order on the project. In a field inspection on Nov. 20, the state building inspector found that plans for the project were not filed with his office and he cited a host of problems with the structure.

These include structural-steel modifications that the report says may have compromised its structural integrity, poor workmanship on the concrete slab that is not square and not level, and issues with the foundation and the roof.

Prestonville officials received a letter Monday from Chief Building Code Official Gary Feck stating that “it is unlawful to begin construction on this type of building without first submitting plans and receiving plan approval from this office.”

Feck states that no further work can be performed on the project without approval from the state Division of Building Code Enforcement.

Commissioner Spike Barnes, who abstained on any vote on bids on the project, expressed his support for “going after that money.”

Hubbard said the city might have to get someone to take a closer look at the work on the building to testify in court. She alleges that because Can Do Construction did not complete the work, they are in breach of their contract.

To date, the city has gotten Lindsay Construction of Carrollton to review work on the project, and the firm submitted a proposal to repair problems with the structure and complete installation of the building for $32,960.

Hubbard said she would check with the Kentucky League of Cities to see if they can offer some type of support with the legal action, such as financial help, through the insurance Prestonville has with the organization.

Can Do Construction co-owner Stacie Hendricks said she was not aware of the action taken by the commission Monday night due to a death in the family. “I am not comfortable commenting at this time,” she said, adding that they are still working on the issue with their attorney.

Prior to the vote to take legal action against Can Do Construction, the commission voted to accept the low bids company by company on the project.

Hubbard explained that the votes were needed “to clarify what was done in April.”

At the April meeting, the commission voted to accept the low bids on the project, but the winning bidders were not specified in the votes or meeting minutes. Can Do Construction was not mentioned in the April meeting minutes, and during the meeting it was indicated that Bimp McAlister was the low bidder on the concrete work for the project.

“I don’t understand it,” Barnes said. He said the commission did not vote to start work on the project and that there were bids lower than the project is now costing.

“Oh, I can’t believe you all are doing this again,” Mayor Vickie Burgin said. She counted through the eight bids that required formally acceptance saying they were approved at the April meeting. She referred to the meeting’s minutes that said low bids were accepted.

“Do I have to vote on that,” Commissioner Robert Dixon said. “I’m not sure what’s going on here.”

Dixon also said that he did not agree to move forward with the building project without grant funds to cover the cost.

City Clerk/Treasurer Debbie Wright explained that without the action to approve each bid, that it would be “harder for the city to get money back from litigation.”

Wright said commissioners approved every payment on the building, noting that receipts for the work were part of their monthly packets.

“And you have me reading the bills every month,” she said, noting that she reads all checks before they are voted on each month.
Dixon wanted to make sure the commission was not voting to restart work on the building.

“We can’t touch the building while it is in litigation,” Burgin said.
On separate 4-1 votes, with Barnes abstaining, the commission approved low bids from the following:

• Troxell Electric, $7,492, for electric work.

• Roger’s Plumbing, $4,645, for plumbing in the building.

• Renegade Steel Buildings, $19,300, for the metal building package.

• B&R Construction, $10,000, for heating and air conditioning.

• Can Do Construction, $7,500, to construct the metal building.

• Can Do Construction, $11,280, for the concrete floor.

• Can Do Construction, $4,500 to pour the front handicapped ramp and front door.

• Can Do Construction, $2,600, for a second front entrance ramp and door.

At last month’s city commission meeting, Can Do Construction co-owner Stacie Hendricks said they did not submit their bids until June. She said Burgin asked her to back date the bids on the project.

This is something that Burgin denies.

Kentucky State Police are looking into this and other issues surrounding the building at the request of the county attorney’s office.

During the discussion Monday, Burgin said Prestonville owes Can Do Construction $2,500, but that the company wants an additional $10,000 for cost overruns.

“It’s not our problem,” Commissioner Rae Stevens said.

The commission voted not to make any further payments to Can Do Construction on the project.

Commissioners also approved a $250 payment to the Division of Building Code Enforcement to submit plans for the building, as required in the stop-work order.

In the citizen comment section of the meeting, Prestonville resident Louis Spencer said that the “lowest bid is not always the best bid.” He also questioned how the bidding process on the project was handled.

During this portion of the meeting, city commissioner-elect Billy Walker filed a request to have a complete summary of what has been spent on the recreation center and city hall building, along with bids, contracts, ads and any action dealing with the project.

Burgin said that the city would get that information to him.
Taking control of meetings

At the beginning of Monday’s meeting, Burgin distributed copies of a state statute that makes disrupting a public meeting a Class A misdemeanor. She also called the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office to have a deputy present during the meeting.

Hubbard advised the commission that it can appoint a sergeant-at-arms to help direct the focus of the meeting. She said this “parliamentarian” is usually the city attorney or city clerk/treasurer.
Hubbard suggested that Wright be named to the post, noting that she has done this same type of thing in previous meetings. “I think she would make a great sergeant-at-arms,” she said.

“In my legal opinion, Prestonville really needs to focus on having professional, efficient meetings where you’re not speaking on top of one another,” she said. The floor would be opened for one commissioner to speak at a time, and then the format would allow citizens time to comment after the agenda is completed.

She said there should be a sign-in sheet and that speakers be limited to three to five minutes.

The commission voted to make Wright its sergeant-at-arms. The commission also agreed to limit each citizen’s comments to five minutes.

During discussion early in the meeting, citizen James McArter was called out for interrupting the meeting. When he spoke again, he was asked to leave the meeting and was escorted out by Deputy Clay Cable.

McArter was allowed back in the meeting for citizen comments. He said that he is “appalled” that he was removed from the meeting. He did not believe he was interrupting, adding that he is a taxpayer and one of the 161 who live in the city.

McArter has questioned the mayor and commission on activities surrounding the recreation center and city hall project.