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Bids for EMS building higher than expected

Fifteen bids for construction of the Emergency Medical Services building on the Harrison County Hospital campus were opened Monday night at the county commissioners meeting by hospital architect Jim Walker.
The documents, including an alternate bid for the interior of the space previously allocated for helicopter service, came in well over the amount the Harrison County Council has provided for the project.
The council, in October, approved $720,000 out of the riverboat fund to cover the county’s portion of the cost. The hospital agreed to fund the rest of the project, which was estimated at $270,000, keeping the total cost at just under $1 million.
Streicher Construction Inc. in Jasper had the lowest bid, at $1,391,000 with an alternate bid of $38,000.
‘We’re not really pleased with the bids,’ said Commissioner James Goldman.
Goldman said they will meet with Walker to examine the difference in the estimate and the bids and then ‘see where we’re at.’
Commissioner Terry Miller said the bids were legitimate, with so many companies participating.
The proposed site for the 8,400-square-foot building is to the southeast of the hospital. The one-story structure will have a four-bay garage, supply room, training room and space for the Emergency Management Agency’s event trailer. The two wheelchair vans will also be kept in the building, and it will also house the ambulance that idles off Quarry Road.
In other matters Monday night, representatives Joe Mrak and Brett Dodd of RQAW Architects and Engineers presented the cost of phase one of the space-needs project, which includes the renovation of the two medical office buildings on the old hospital campus.
Cost of phase one, which Dodd said could be ready for occupancy by October, is approximately $4 million. Funds will need to be in place for bid letting in March, said Dodd. The phase includes the placement of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Office in the old medical office building and the health department, MCH clinic and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in the other medical office building. The county’s planning and zoning office may be temporarily housed with the Extension office until the renovation of the old hospital building is complete.
The cost of the entire project is estimated at $13 million to $15 million.
The commissioners advised Mrak to seek financial advice to determine the advantages of combining the phases into one project instead of staggering the renovations over time.
Dodd said the county could alleviate inflationary costs and take advantage of the competitive construction climate by combining the phases.
‘I, personally, don’t see any benefit in trickling it out,’ said Miller. ‘Once you know where you’re going, there’s no reason to mess around if you can get it financed.’
Goldman also said he supported combining the entire project, as long as it can be done in a prudent way.
Dodd again defended the county’s decision to use the existing structures instead of building new facilities. He said the total cost breaks down to $92 per square foot, when new construction would be near $180 per square foot.
‘You’re realizing a heck of a lot of value by using the existing buildings,’ said Dodd.
Dodd will report back to the commissioners at their meeting on Monday, Jan. 5, at 8:30 a.m.
Also Monday night, the board heard a request of $20,000 from Larry Bauer for The Next Step program for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts to continue services in 2009. Bauer said funds through grants have dwindled.
The program has been in service in Harrison County since 1986. It offers a soup kitchen three days a week ‘ Monday, Wednesday and Friday ‘ and will have 12 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week next year. The Next Step hopes to again offer soup five days a week.
‘If not for Next Step, I don’t think I would have made it,’ said Bauer.
Bauer, who has been sober for nine years, said he can now use the resources he has learned from The Next Step to help others.
The board will review the request again in January.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart said the request is something the board and the county council should look at, but said riverboat funds are difficult to guarantee on a year-to-year basis.
Goldman said new people come in to ask for riverboat funds and inflation costs take up more and more of the capped riverboat funds each year.
‘Our buying power diminishes,’ he said.
In a related matter, the commissioners approved a request to the council of $48,000 for consulting services from Capital Asset Management LLC, to lobby the state legislature to ensure the county keeps its riverboat allotment.
Goldman said the riverboat funds will be brought up more than once at the state level with the current economic climate.
Capital Asset, Miller said, has agreed to work with other riverboat counties and towns to form a united front.
‘It’s something we’ve always needed to do,’ said Miller.
The state session begins Jan. 7, so the board will ask the council for a commitment of funds at its next meeting, but the appropriation cannot be approved until the council’s Jan. 12 meeting.
The board sent a request of $15,000 for a full-time temporary position for David Simon, the county’s maintenance director, because one of his janitorial employees will be missing significant time for medical reasons.
The commissioners appointed county engineer Kevin Russel to the Main Street Inc. Keller property building committee and county Auditor Pat Wolfe to the finance committee. They also appointed Willis Charles to the county’s land conservation committee.
A year-end meeting will be conducted by the commissioners on Monday, Dec. 29, at 7:30 p.m.

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