County settles RISE road squabble with contractor

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – Litigation between Lee County and a contractor who built a road system in the county as part of the Iowa Fertilizer plant construction has been settled.

The settlement between Lee County and Manatt’s Inc., of Brooklyn, Iowa was approved at Tuesday’s regular Lee County Board of Supervisor’s meeting.

According to County Engineer Ben Hull, the dispute between the two entities revolved around quality of workmanship and delays in the project. The company built the road system consisting of three different roads, 190th Street, 360th Avenue, and 180th Street out of the fertilizer plant, also known as the J50 project.

The $9 million road project was funded with county funds and multiple state and federal grants.

Hull said there was some confusion during design phase with location of CenturyLink utilities. CenturyLink had told engineers they did not have utilities buried in the area of the road construction. However, in the middle of construction utilities were discovered that belonged to the telecommunications company.

“So delays ensued and there was difficulty for the contractor in completing the project. They did have to stand down for a period of time when they did work, but they did get the job done a little bit behind in terms of the contract,” Hull said.

Hull said the concrete also didn’t meet the minimum depth specified in the contract. But he said it was close enough that a cash settlement of $61,006 in damages would be a better course of action rather than replacing the concrete.

He said damages for additional time amounted to $20,000, but Manatt’s won a federal judgment against CenturyLink for damages on the misinformation.

Lee County wasn’t a party of the litigation, but was called as a defense witness by Manatts.

Manatt’s is contesting the $20,000 on the grounds it was issues beyond their control.

So the agreement calls for the county to forgive the $20,000. It also provides for Manatt’s to make good on the $61,000 by allowing the county to retain $42,471 that hasn’t been paid out, plus make a payment of $18,535 to reach the cost of the concrete deficiency.

Lee County Attorney Ross Braden said he agreed that the settlement is the best way to go and it releases both parties with regard to the project.

Supervisor Matt Pflug moved to accept the settlement and Supervisor Rick Larkin seconded, and the vote passed 5-0.

In an unrelated issue, the board opened bids for six new ambulances that are being considered by the Lee County EMS Advisory Board as the county prepares to take ownership of ambulance services in the county July 1, 2021.

Three bids were submitted for Type 2 ambulances which are a smaller transfer-type vehicle, and three Type 3, which are full service larger box ambulances.

Alexis Fire Equipment’s bid was $111,132 each for the Type 2 and $177,887 for the Type 3, while North Central Emergency Vehicles was $115,838 and $176,843 comparatively. Klocke’s Emergency Vehicle prices came in a $93,812 and $206,374.

The bids are now forwarded to the Advisory Board for a recommendation. EMS Director Dennis Cosby said he will break the bids down and provide a closer analysis for the advisory board at its meeting Thursday.

Supervisor Chairman Ron Fedler said he was pleased with the numbers because they are close to what the county would have paid to remount new boxes on old chassis.

In other action, supervisors:
• appointed Mary Van Pelt to the Lee County Conservation Board, 5-0. Van Pelt was the only application for the opening on the board. Larkin said it should be noted that two years ago there were many that wanted to be on the board during the duck blind controversy, but now that that has been settled, only one wanted to serve.
• approved the second reading of a change in the ATV/UTV ordinance extending the new law past the current Dec. 31, 2020 language.

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