Officials accept bid, but question arises about submission procedure

Published 6:16 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday received a bid to stabilize and restore the Mississippi & Yazoo Valley Depot that’s within the project’s budget, but it may take some legal research by the city’s attorney to determine if they can legally accept the bid.

The problem involves whether the bid by Washington County Properties LLC of Greenville followed the proper procedure when submitting its bid. According to the bid documents opened Monday, company representatives did not sign a form indicating they would agree to do the work for the bid price and within the projected completion date if the company got the job.

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Washington Counties’ base bid of $340,000 was the only one of four under the project’s $498,513 budget. With the project’s two options included, the bid increased to $420,000, still under the project’s budget. Other bidders included Fordice Construction of Vicksburg, $554,230; Paul Jackson and Sons of Brookhaven, $499,000; and Paramount Construction of Jackson, $511,358.

All four were taken under advisement. The bids were the second set of estimates for the project. The board in March rejected bids from Paul Jackson and Son and Fordice Construction because they were more than the project budget.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. initially recommended the board reject the bid, but city attorney Nancy Thomas recommended the board take the bids under advisement so she could consult with Mississippi Department of Transportation officials.

The project is funded by $471,475 in federal Transportation Alternative Program funds, which are administered by MDOT and cover 80 percent of the project’s cost.

“We don’t know if it’s (the error) something that’s immaterial that can be waived, or if it’s something that’s substantial that would affect the price or the quantity or the competitiveness of the bid,” she said. Thomas said MDOT officials would be able to determine if the bid met federal regulations.

Architect Craig Bjorgum with Belinda J. Stewart of Eupora, the project architect, said the company had an acknowledgement from Washington County Properties that it had received the addendum.

The project involves replacing ornamental woodwork on the building’s exterior, repairing the building’s 48 windows, painting the depot’s exterior, replacing its elevator, repairing the building’s cupola on the roof and renovations to the building’s front door to make it handicap-accessible.

The depot’s elevator has been a problem since the building reopened in 2012, at times trapping people inside on the third floor, which once housed the Vicksburg Main Street offices and a conference room used by Main Street and the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. The elevator was shut down in April 2016 by state officials as a safety hazard.

Main Street and the VCVB, which rented space in the building, have since moved out because of concerns over flooding, and have relocated elsewhere in town.

The city bought the three-story depot in 2001 for $295,000.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation in 2007 awarded the city a $1.65 million grant to renovate the building, and in 2009 allocated $250,000 in stimulus funds for the project.

Work on the depot restoration began in 2010, but was halted in the spring of 2011 when the Mississippi River dumped 4 feet of water into the building as it reached record heights in Vicksburg, cresting on May 19 at 57.1, 14.1 feet above flood stage and nine-tenths of a foot above the Great Flood of 1927.

The depot became a national symbol for the flood in Vicksburg and the backdrop for media coverage during the disaster. The renovation work resumed in June 2011.

The flood forced the board in 2011 to approve two amendments to the original renovation contract with contractor Kenneth R. Thompson Jr. of Greenwood totaling $56,000 to repair damage caused by the flood that was not covered by Thompson’s insurance or under the original contract.

In November 2011, the board approved a $105,660 change order with Kenneth R. Thompson Jr. to build the Main Street offices on the south end of the third floor.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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