Bids to be opened for jail on Thursday

The Hamblen County Commission Committees meeting Tuesday resulted in two courses of action being taken on two projects.

Bids will be open for the different facets of the Hamblen County Jail project Thursday afternoon.

County Mayor Bill Brittain said that the bid opening will be Thursday.

In the finance committee meeting, Tony Pettit, project manager of the jail project for BurWil Construction Company, provided an update on the jail project.

Base bids will be opened at 2 p.m., Thursday, followed by opening of bids by unit price by 10 alternates at 3 p.m. via sealed bid, along with six alternates.

“At that point in time, they will open both envelopes and read those (bids) aloud,” Pettit said.

Pettit also discussed the inflation rate as compared to the project.

“I’ve got a mixed bag here,” he said. “Steel (prices) actually peaked in May, steel futures have dropped a little bit. However, that steel has not gotten to the warehouses yet. Steel was up 34 percent in May over April. When we bid the project, some things may go down, but I’m concerned about some things going up. There’s still a horrendous (steel) shortage. Those general contractors having to bid this job have to contend with someone that’s quoting for about a week or two weeks for a price. They’ve got a 30-month job in front of them.”

Pettit said that lumber futures were also up 40 percent in April but it has leveled off. He also said that paint is also hard to find right now.

“Sometimes, they can’t even get buckets for paint,” he said.

Pettit also stated concerns by general contractors for future work.

“We think that that may help the price coming in,” he said. “Non-residential building fell 13% in August. It’s rose 3% year to date, but you’ve got to remember that last year was COVID-19 so that has to be taken into consideration. Total construction starts fell 9%, which is good news for us because we want people to be open to more competitor rates. It’s been tough since April, it’ll be interesting to see how the bids come in.”

Due to order time limits, the Hamblen County Garbage/Sanitation Department’s request to get two new garbage trucks from Kenworth was not received in time to be processed by the manufacturer. Road Commissioner Barry Poole suggested getting two Mack garbage trucks at an increased cost of $195,000, from a cost of $165,000 for the Kenworth models, which would not be available until 2025 at the earliest.

“(These companies) don’t have enough staff to meet the demand on new vehicles because of the COVID-19 situation,” Poole said. “We had in our budget two garbage trucks to be purchased through Sourcewell, formerly NJPA. They were for Kenworth cab and chassis and the Pack-Mor dump body. Kenworth notified Worldwide (the supplier) that they can’t provide the cab and chassis.”

Worldwide was also told by International, another vehicle brand sold by them, that they also couldn’t provide the cab or chassis.

“If you didn’t get your order in by a certain time, then they wouldn’t be able to supply those,” Poole said. “The only option we have now with Worldwide is Mack’s.”

Poole said that the Mack trucks, while costing more upfront, will cost less later on in maintenance costs. He said that the Mack trucks have the best maintenance record.

“There’s been an increase with the Pak-Mor body,” he said. “Macks cost a little more than the Kenworth’s. That is our only option at this point if we want to proceed to but two new garbage trucks in the coming year.”

Poole said that the department is dealing with “breakdown after breakdown” of the two trucks that are to be replaced.

“A truck or two needs a sensor, but you can’t get a sensor,” he said. “If you don’t have that sensor in there, it shuts the truck down. There are sensors out there on the water that can’t come into the dock to unload. You know that situation better than I do. That’s where we are. We feel like we’re in bad need of trucks.”

Poole also said that the department is in need of two commercially-licensed truck drivers.

The finance committee decided to fund the difference and purchase the trucks pending action of the full commission next week. Should the commission approve the trucks, the trucks will be available sometime around April 2022.