City approves $1.35 million excavation contract

Clockwise from top, Morristown City Administrator Tony Cox, councilmember Ken Smith, Cindy Dibb, deputy clerk, and Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney conduct business during a council meeting held remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The meeting will be posted on city government’s website www.mymorristown.com. City officials indicate they expect the same method will be used at the next meeting as well.

The Morristown City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a $1.35 million contract with Glass Machinery and Excavation to grade and otherwise prepare an 85-acre site in the East Tennessee Progress Center.

The city’s share of the cost will come from the recent sale of ETPC property, according to Marshall Ramsey, secretary of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Morristown. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the Tennessee Valley Authority also made large contributions to the site-preparation effort.

Ramsey says the IDB doesn’t have a bird-in-the hand prospect for the industrial site, but having a large, fully graded site with easy access to utilities puts Morristown at the front of the line when it comes to industrial recruiting. Ramsey says the plan is to sell the 85 acres to one large employer, but industrial officials would consider subdividing under the right circumstances.

In another big-ticket expenditure that won’t cost Morristown taxpayers directly, the council approved a $205,000 contract with Junior Hommel Excavating for drainage improvements at the Morristown Regional Airport. City Administrator Tony Cox says work will begin this month.

The bid award is subject to Tennessee Department of Transportation approval because its Aeronautics Division will bear all the costs. Manis Excavation actually submitted a lower bid – about $191,000. Michael Baker International, a firm that contracts with city government, recommended that Manis not get the contract due to “bid irregularities and incomplete or missing items.”

TDOT will also have to approve a $65,000 expenditure for a new card-reading device at the airport tarmac entrance that will replace an outdated keypad entry device. Councilmembers awarded the contract to Stansell Electric. The keypad code is known to a large number of people, including delivery people from local pizza companies, according to city officials.

The new system will bring the airport into compliance with federal regulations by providing a precise roster of people who access the tarmac,

Councilmembers also approved applying for a $20,000 no-match Tennessee Highway Safety Office grant for enhanced DUI enforcement and education.