County Rejects All Bids For Bridge On Husky Trail

(photo supplied / Times-Union)

Highway Superintendent Scott Tilden requested Tuesday the commissioners reject all bids for the bridge No. 9 reconstruction project.

The bridge is on Husky Trail over Deed’s Creek.

At the Oct. 29 commissioners meeting, the bids were opened for the project. Base bids were from Phend & Brown, Milford, for $2,268,794.92 with a base bid plus alternative C for $2,241,494.92; Rieth-Riley Construction Inc., South Bend, for $1,981,326 with no bids on any alternatives; and HRP Construction Inc., South Bend, for $1,585,075.42 with no bids on any alternatives. Bids were taken under review until Tuesday.

The engineer’s estimate for the project base bid and alternative bid were both for $1,269,418.22, Tilden said.

HRP was the apparent low bidder, he said, but on Nov. 4 it requested the county withdrawal its bid due to a $345,150 error HRP made on one of the line items of the bid.

“Even bid at $1,585,075.42, before we even withdrawal it, it was $315,657.20 over the engineer’s estimate, which is nearly 25% over,” Tilden said.

The next low bid, which was from Phend & Brown, was $711,907.78 – nearly 50% – over the engineer’s estimate, Tilden said.

He recommended the commissioners reject all bids and he will get with the county’s consultant – The Troyer Group – to work on an alternative structure for that location that will fit within the county’s budget.

“We have other bridges and pipelines that we created through federal aid programs that we are committed to, and this is going to be too much,” Tilden said of the bridge No. 9 project.

Commissioner Bob Conley said with the bids coming in at 25-50% over the engineer’s estimate, rejecting all the bids was the “prudent thing to do.” He made the motion to reject all the bids.

Tilden then had county attorney Chad Miner present an ordinance for CR 800W, from U.S. 30 to Ind. 19. The county recently redid the road through the Community Crossings state grant.

“If we don’t want it to become the new State Road 19, I guess, the road is very nice now so I’d like to control some of the traffic that’s just going to go all the way through it, especially the commercial-type vehicles and semi trucks and things like that,” Tilden said.

Miner said the ordinance prohibits any commercial or agricultural vehicles that have a gross weight of over 26,000 pounds or any combination of vehicles like truck-and-trailer that weigh over 26,000 pounds.

“Those would be restricted from utilizing CR 800W from U.S. 30 to Indiana State Road 19, but only for through-traffic purposes,” Miner said.

The first fine for violating the ordinance would be $100, with the second and subsequent fines being $200. If there continues to be a problem on the road, Miner said the commissioners can readdress the fine amounts.

The ordinance will go into effect once the signs are up. The commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance.

Earlier in the meeting, Teen Court Director Betsey Vastbinder and Case Manager Lana Horoho gave the Kosciusko County commissioners an update on the court’s progress this year.

They also asked for permission to apply for the grant to keep the program going. The commissioners unanimously gave them approval to seek the $129,039 reimbursement grant for 2020.

Vastbinder was brought on board for Teen Court in June. She was charged with launching the program again for the new school year. In July, she brought Horoho on board to serve alongside her. The two women run Teen Court together.

“I love the job,” Horoho said, noting that she and Vastbinder have a history of working together at Lakeview Middle School. “As case manager, I typically do a lot of behind-the-scenes (work).”

Peer volunteers serve as prosecutor and defense attorney, as well as peer jury, “so that they have a good understanding of what’s going on in that participant’s life and start brainstorming how we can best help them,” Horoho said.

She said after that there’s sanctions that are assigned and checked up on to make sure “everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing to complete their programs.”

Vastbinder said court hearings started in August. There currently are 44 open cases with various students around the community. This past week Teen Court closed its first two cases. The two teens took the post-program survey “and had nothing but positive things to say about their opportunities for growth and their time in Teen Court. So we’re thrilled about that,” she said.

The two women thanked their teen volunteers, the community, probation officers, County Administrator Marsha McSherry, Chief Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz and Superior Court I Judge David Cates for their support of the program.

Commissioner Cary Groninger asked what school corporations are involved in Teen Court. Vastbinder said they had the “potential” to include five school districts because Triton and Whitko have students with Kosciusko County addresses. She said they haven’t had any students from Triton yet, but could. She said they have had students from Whitko, Wawasee, Warsaw and Tippecanoe. Volunteers are from Tippecanoe Valley, Wawasee and Warsaw.

Bids for 2020 annual highway supplies were also opened. Tilden will review them and give the commissioners his recommendations at the Nov. 26 meeting.

In other business, the commissioners approved:

• The KnowInk e-poll pads contract for $94,050, as requested by Clerk of the Superior and Circuit Courts Ann Torpy. The contract includes 50 iPads, printers and software. There will be an annual maintenance cost on the iPads after 2020.

She told the commissioners she was unable to get the deal with Verizon for WiFi service, which she previously reported could have saved thousands of dollars.

• Additional cyber security for voting systems, for free until 2022, as recommended by the Indiana Secretary of State. The state will pay for it for the counties until 2022, but after that it will be up to the counties to pay for their own cyber security for their voting systems.

• The Purdue contractual agreement as requested by Kelly Heckaman, Purdue Extension Office. The amount was approved by the county council in its 2020 budget.

• The expenditure of funds to pay for perimeter chemical testing equipment and dual-band radios, as requested by Emergency Management Services Director Ed Rock. After the county council approves the additional appropriations for the expenditures Thursday, and the items are paid for, Rock will request reimbursement from the state grant for that equipment and radios.