Work on the exhibition center will begin

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After commercial buildings, grandstands and barns closed midway through Saturday night, a major infrastructure upgrade to the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds can continue.

A $629,180 contract that allows for the installation of new sanitary sewer service, electrical pads and water upgrades at the South Garden City facility has now been signed by all parties. concerned.

For more than 20 years, county officials tried to find funding for the project, but came up empty-handed. But now the entire project will be funded by federal COVID-19 relief funds provided through the US bailout.

The base proposal submitted by successful bidder Kings Truck and Excavating of Seymour was $447,350. But Bartholomew County Board Chairman and Maintenance Manager Rick Trimpe argued for six optional projects valued at an additional $181,830.

While the base offering called for extensive utility facilities on the south side of the fairgrounds, the optional works include similar upgrades on the north side. Additional upgrades also require a lift station, as well as the addition of additional sewer lines. Bartholomew County commissioners unanimously accepted Trimpe’s recommendation.

Originally, the county wanted construction to begin early last spring and end with this week’s fair. But when the bids were announced twice in February, no contractor proposals were submitted by the deadline. This prompted the commissioners to ask Strand and Associates, a local engineering and consultancy firm hired in December, to start investigating the reasons.

Consulting engineer Steve Ruble reported that no company was willing to work in the short timeframe requested by the county as supply chain delays and labor shortages remain a significant issue. , Ruble said.

After realizing that the work could not be completed this year, the commissioners agreed to solicit bids again and set a new deadline of March 1, 2023. The three months between completion and the 2023 fair will be needed to allow grass seed to grow into the construction. region, Trimpe said.

Extending the calendar did the trick. A total of three offers were received when the deadline for the second round of offers arrived on May 2.

Even with the option projects, Kings Trucking’s bid was still lower than the base bids of two other bidders, the commissioners noted. Dave O’Mara Contractor, Inc. submitted a bid for $810,507 while Milestone Contractors of Columbus offered to do all the infrastructure work for just over $1.1 million.

Although there is a significant difference between Kings’ winning bid and the cost of the other two proposals, analysis shows contractor Seymour fully understands the scope and complexity of the project, Ruble said.

However, county officials say there is no reason Kings Trucking and Excavating should start work immediately.

“They can start when they have time,” County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

Most contractors in south-central Indiana already have their hands full of higher-paying private projects. On overlay projects, they will bid less on government contracts than on private projects, with the understanding that they face little pressure on deadlines.

Bartholomew County Commissioner Tony London says he is amazed that Bartholomew County is seeing a variety of positive results from ARP dollars.

“It’s going to be something our kids and grandkids will recognize,” London said.

“The ARP has taken a huge strain on the county’s general fund,” commissioners chairman Carl Lienhoop said.

Although utility upgrades are primarily for fairground staff and mid-level workers, they can also be used year-round to serve as a type of campground for RVs and campers. A major fundraiser for the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair Board of Directors is to rent facilities or property to individuals or organizations.

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