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Jail gets $40K ‘bare-bones’ kitchen

By Staff | Apr 13, 2009

County Commissioner Butch Erichsrud

The new law enforcement center will have a kitchen and a water softener, as bids for those two items were approved at last Tuesday’s regular Faribault County Commissioners meeting.

Decisions on each of the two items had been postponed in the past.

The kitchen at the jail had originally been designed to be a full-feature facility. Board members decided they wanted a scaled-back version, due to the fact meals at the jail are catered by Parker Oaks of Winnebago.

Still, commissioners were surprised to learn the smaller version kitchen was still going to cost over $40,000.

Construction Manager Mike Kearns explained that the kitchen would have a dish washing station, reach-in refrigerator/freezer, prep station and wire rack storage area.

“It is a bare-bones kitchen compared to the original plan,” Kearns told the board. “But we still have to follow commercial kitchen guidelines.”

Commissioner Butch Erichsrud asked for a list of equipment and a drawing of the proposed kitchen. Kearns furnished those materials later in the meeting.

“I can’t believe we are looking at a kitchen without a stove for $40,000,” Commissioner Bill Groskreutz says.

The original full complete kitchen had two bids when it was first proposed. One was for $118,000, the other was $129,000. Commissioners decided a full kitchen wasn’t needed, and making it smaller was one area where they could cut costs.

Board Chairman Tom Loveall says Kearns did what the board requested – he came in with a lower-priced proposal.

However, when the timecame for the vote on the new kitchen, Loveall said, “I don’t see a lot of happy faces here.”

The board did vote to authorize the down-sized kitchen, despite some reservations about what they were getting for their money.

They also approved one of two quotes for a new water softener system for the jail, but again, it did not come without debate.

The board said OK to a quote from Culligan Soft Water of Fairmont. Their bid of $15,625 was half of the other one – $31,000 from Tonna Mechanical of Rochester.

Commissioner John Roper questioned how the two could be so far apart, and asked Kearns if both quotes met the same specs.

“I happen to know the three brass valve heads are $9,000 to $10,000,” Roper said. “Do both quotes have the same valves?”

Kearns told the board that both quotes provide the functionality of what is required.

Erichsrud said he too saw problems with the quotes. He asked who was going to be responsible for inspecting the softener system and making sure it met the specs.

Kearns said his job was to make sure the equipment furnished what it was required to.

“We are not inspectors,” Kearns said. “I am not an engineer.”

The board has already had multiple problems with the water softener specs and quotes. Earlier they had awarded a bid to one company who later did not sign the contract, forcing the county to re-do the specs, and call for new quotes.

“I will not go down this road again,” Commissioner Tom Warmka said, referring to the publicity surrounding the softener bids.

The board voted to give the job to Culligan, the low bidder. They also voted to hire a plumbing engineer to inspect installation, making sure it meets the specs.

Kearns also presented nine change orders for work on the new law enforcement center. They totalled $24,194.

The nine items included some caulking and painting for $14,000. Erichsrud questioned why these items were not included in the original bids.

Kearns said they were items which came up during the construction and are not able to be planned ahead. He also said the caulking is a specialty item specifically for jails.

“We had $250,000 in the original project for contingencies, and we will still have $173,000 left in the fund even after these are done,” Kearns said.

Erichsrud voted no on the change orders, which were authorized by the rest of the board.

Sheriff Mike Gormley also presented some items for the new LEC. These included radios and cell phone antennas for use inside the new jail.

The total expense was $9,637, and will come out of the FF&E budget, which still has funds available in it.

Gormley did tell the board he had good news for them. He presented a list of areas in his department where cuts can be made to trim $84,660 from the sheriff’s budget.

The cuts involved changes in staff scheduling, postponing new hires for the jail, and holding back on vehicle purchases.

As far as an opening date for the new jail, Kearns told the board they are about eight weeks away from completion.

Gormley said realistically they cannot move in until all of the 911 emergency equipment is installed.

“I think we are looking at a July public open house,” Gormley told the board.