PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners on Thursday decided not to open bids for demolition and asbestos removal at the former Holding Center.
Four bids were received for demolition of the Second Street facility and three were submitted for asbestos removal.
After learning a former prosecutor's opinion, provided in an earlier case, that demolition was not covered by the state code pertaining to prevailing wage payment, the county officials decided to keep the bids sealed and continue the bid opening to Monday.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton reviewed with county commissioners an earlier opinion in which he stated demolition does not fall within the code section which requires prevailing wage be paid on jobs for public authorities.
"Only those who have already submitted bids will be allowed to bid again on Monday, or you can just attach your new price onto your existing bid," Commissioner Blair Couch told company representatives.
According to the opinion issued by Prosecutor Jason Wharton in May 2012 relating to the demolition of the former magistrate court building, state code requires no less than prevailing hourly rates can be paid for "construction" performed by "any public authority."
"The issue is whether demolition constitutes construction within the meaning of the statute," Wharton said. Demolition does not fall within the meaning prescribed by the Legislature, therefore, the county is not required to require bids at prevailing wage, he said.
* The predecessor to the current Holding Center/Jail stood on Third Street and was built in 1889. It was torn down in the early 1970s when it was replaced by the Second Street building.
* The Second Street facility served as the county jail until 2001 when the regional jail authority was formed and all inmates serving sentences were transferred to the North Central Regional Jail at Greenwood, Doddridge County.
* The former Wood County Jail then became a holding center.
* A smaller version of the Holding Center was constructed inside the new Wood County Justice Center and all Holding Center/Home Confinement Program staff moved to the new building in early 2012.
The county commissioners said Thursday the opinion, which was issued to John Reed, county compliance officer, was just called to their attention.
Wharton told the commissioners Thursday the asbestos removal was part of the demolition process since it could not begin until asbestos was removed from the building, so those bids also did not have to include prevailing wages.
"This is new information, by not opening the bids, no unfair advantage would be given to the other bidders," Couch said.
County Administrator Marty Seufer said all bidders who wished to bid on the projects were required to attend the earlier pre-bid conference.
The four firms submitting demo bids were: Empire Builders of Parkersburg; Reclaim Co. of Fairmont; Graham Excavation, of Parkersburg; and J.C. Bosley of Parkersburg. The three companies that turned in bids for asbestos removal were Justice Business Service, Marietta; Reclaim of Fairmont; Empire Builders.
"It should make a difference in the cost of the project," Commissioner Steve Gainer noted.
"If it were just asbestos removal, then it might be different, but because, in this case, it is part of the demolition process, the prevailing wage requirement does not apply to bids for that project either," Wharton said.
The new bids or amended bids are due 9 a.m. Monday. The bids will be opened at 9:05 a.m.
The former Holding Center, which is now unoccupied, costs the county about $8,000 annually, plus the cost of insurance, to maintain the building.
A smaller version of the Holding Center was constructed in the Wood County Justice Center and all personnel with the Holding Center and Home Confinement Program were moved from the Second Street location when the Justice Center opened early 2012.
Prior to being a Holding Center the building served as the county jail from the time it was constructed in the 1970s until 2001 when the regional jail authority was formed and all inmates serving sentences were transferred to the North Central Regional Jail at Greenwood, Doddridge County.
The commissioners have repeatedly invited federal and state corrections officials to tour the building and consider purchasing or leasing it for some type of facility within their systems, but to no avail.
The county officials decided to see what the cost of demo and asbestos removal would be, and are looking at putting in a parking lot at the location once the building is removed.
Commission President Wayne Dunn did not attend Thursday's meeting.