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After jail, time to take a break from building
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.