After jail, time to take a break from building

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The latest segment of McCook's building boom has hit a snag with the construction manager's announcement that there is no way Red Willow County's new jail and law enforcement center can be built for the agreed-upon price.

Sampson Construction's Chuck Richter said his company's bids for basics such as bricks and mortar -- and iron bars -- were on the money, but estimates made from the architect's schematic drawings fell far short of reality.

While a similar facility in Iowa was built for the same $4.3 million Red Willow County's was budgeted at, construction of mechanical and electrical components of the new facility would cost far more to complete here, Richter said.

Following Monday's discussion, commissioners proceeded with plans for terminating Sampson Construction's contract and seeking another builder.

We probably shouldn't be surprised at the recent turn of events. Most major construction projects under way in McCook at the current time have had to be trimmed to make the budget -- an exception is the multi-phase Community Hospital project, which was able to take advantage of favorable construction conditions to complete more improvements than originally planned.

But if the new jail "is pretty bare bones" already, as Commissioner Chairman Earl McNutt noted, it will be hard to find another building able to meet the $4.3 million limit.

If that's the case, the county will have to redefine "bare bones" in a radical way, one that will challenge officials' ability to find a way to meet the county's needs while still coming in under budget.

Assuming they can, the jail may be -- should be -- one of the last major public construction projects for a long time. In the last few years, we've built or expanded a single, unified elementary school, an Armed Forces Reserve Center, Community Hospital facilities, McCook Community College Events Center, McCook Municipal Facility and others.

Once the jail is completed, it may be a good time to take a break, make good use of the facilities we've built, pay off the bonds and do our best to make more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

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  • The contruction industry is benchmark for the economy of any region. Its the first indicator to be viewed and rightfully so. Structure construction indicates economic strength and above that, brings in more money than most other industries including tourism, road construction and special events, among the various types of non perminant money drawing projects that an area can have.

    It seems quite bold for any individual to say stop the building, especially in regard to the range of facilities that have been constructed in our area. The Community Hospital was indeed in part federal moneies along with private financing, the new Armory was ALL federal money and that would effect the tax payers but as everyone knows, the feds would spend the money here or somewhere else. The College was another combination of finance projects which was in part private donations by many very generous entities. The City of course, along with the law enforcement center were primarily tax funded, the school was a bonded project. My point is, the tax money spent, could have certainly gone to lesser projects but ones that would not have reinvested as much back into our area. Should we also hamper private construction? Afterall that money has to come from somewhere, presumably banks, which seem to be on the skids and are receiving tax money to keep them afloat.

    Progress and renewal isn't a poor investment, its a needed proceedure to avoid the Big Fade Away.

    Oh, and by the way, its also a proactive means of drawing interest to our community because as the topic turns full circle, structure construction in the primary indicator of economic strength of any area.

    -- Posted by Nick Mercy on Fri, Oct 26, 2012, at 7:40 PM
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