After receiving legal advice from an attorney, the United South Central School Board awarded two low bids tabled the week before for the new $28.825 million school.
"He didn't see anything that would cause the board not to award to the low bidder," says Superintendent Jerry Jensen.
On March 19, board members accepted bids in seven work areas of Phase 1, but held off making a decision on two others because they involved local contractors.
In the concrete package, Tolzmann-Schultz submitted a bid of $940,000 compared to Thompson Construction of Princeton with $868,868.
For site clearing and earthwork, Dirt Merchant Inc. of Mankato had a low bid of $2.122 million, while Dulas Excavating Inc. of Wells submitted a bid of $2.145 million.
Justin Webster of Kraus-Anderson Construction of Rochester told board members it was his opinion that the lower bids were qualified, meaning that they had met all the necessary criteria.
Despite the project's construction manager recommendation to accept the low bids, the board delayed taking action until seeking legal advice.
Jensen says it was prudent for board members to get a legal opinion before making a decision.
Board chair Kathy Krebsbach says the board was only trying to give small local contractors an opportunity to work on the project.
"It was our promise to the community to spend as much money as we could locally," she says.
However, Krebsbach and other members of the board agreed they needed to follow state guidelines.
"Everybody did their homework and we did our best," says board member Steve Navara.
Board member Jon Feist says Wells Concrete also has agreed to make a "product contribution" of $75,000 for any additional facilities.
Jensen says the total for Phase 1 bids was around $9.740 million, which is slightly higher than expected. Total construction cost for the project is estimated at $25.3 million.
Other bids awarded were:
structural precast package - Wells Concrete Products Company, $3.585 million;
masonry package - Rice Lake Construction Group, $1.016 million;
metal fabrication - material only - K & K Fabrication, Inc. $188,553;
metal fabrication - South Central Erectors, $158,950;
membrane roofing - South Central Roofing Company, $1.298 million
doors, frames and hardware - material only - Kendell Doors and Hardware, Inc., $227,569;
entrances, storefronts, and glazing - Ford Metro, Inc., $285,500.
Weather conditions have pushed back a ground-breaking ceremony to the week of May 13 through 17. The actual date will be made public when details are worked out.
Site groundwork is anticipated to be in mid-May.
Advertisement for Phase 2 bids began on March 25 and they can be submitted until April 18.
The board expects to award bids in April.