July 8, 2014 10:29:02 AM
Lowndes County supervisors approved requests from owners of two houses being rebuilt as part of the HOME Investment Participation Program to cancel their contracts with LRJ&J Construction.
In 2013, Willie Hill of George Bridges Road and Augusta Fergerson of Gilmer Wilburn Road were approved to have their homes rebuilt through a grant administered through the Mississippi Development Authority. The two homeowners agreed to have their homes demolished and rebuilt on the same sites after inspections found both homes to have multiple serious structural deficiencies.
LRJ&J was the low bidder on the construction projects for each house. Company owner Eddie Jones was to be paid slightly over $88,000 to rebuild each house. Notices for him to proceed with the construction were issued in November on Fergerson's house and in January on Hill's house. Each house was to be rebuilt within 180 days.
Golden Triangle Planning and Development District administers grant applications for Lowndes County. Spencer Broocks, a project coordinator with GTPDD, said a lack of progress on construction evident after he visited both sites Sunday was the cause for Hill's and Fergerson's decisions.
"After talking to Mr. Jones last week, promises were made that things were going to be taken care of and progress was going to be made," Broocks said. "(As of Sunday) that was not the case."
The next step is to go to the next lowest bidder for the project, which was Gladney Construction. Broocks said the company has worked on HOME projects in the past and has a history of quality work. He added that he believed Gladney Construction was still interested in picking up where Jones left off.
If Gladney Construction is not interested, the project will have to go back out to bid, which involves two public advertisements and a 15-working-day waiting period before a new contract can be awarded.
GTPDD and the county will also have to request a final invoice from Jones with a list of sub-contractors he used on the work that was done on the two homes. Broocks said some sub-contractors have called him saying Jones has not yet paid them. Any payments due the sub-contractors would be deducted from Jones' final invoice.
"The state is committed to making sure that this project is taken care of and everyone is paid," Broocks said.
■ The board renewed its 30-day emergency proclamation from the April 28 tornadoes to allow for one more round of storm debris pickup in the county;
■ The board passed a resolution adopting a hazard mitigation plan;
■ The board passed a resolution honoring recently retired Columbus-Lowndes County Port Authority Director John Hardy;
■ The board approved the county's aerial mapping contract with Surdex.
■ The board approved District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith's request to replace paving a mile of Minnie Vaughn Road with a mile of Gilmer Wilburn Road from the intersection of Hardy Billups Road.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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