Franklin jail construction proposal nixed

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 29, 2014 

Franklin County Jail

Hector Arias of SunScapes landscaping company preps an island for sod Wednesday as work continues on the expansion of the Franklin County Jail in Pasco.

PAUL T. ERICKSON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Franklin County commissioners rejected a proposal Wednesday that would have delegated some authority over construction on the county jail.

Construction on the new part of the jail is expected to wrap up by March 4, with work then turning to renovating the existing jail.

The county has had to use only 1 percent of the money it set aside for unforeseen costs for the $19.5 million project so far. But Joe Harvey, superintendent for jail construction contractor Lydig, said the renovation part, which has a completion date in September, could lead to more unexpected costs and would have a more compressed schedule.

"It's a remodel," Harvey told commissioners. "There will be unforeseen conditions in the remodel."

So construction officials asked commissioners to allow Larry Hueter, who the county hired as project manager for jail construction, to sign change orders for unexpected items on the jail without commission approval.

Architect Steve Christiansen thought the process the county now uses requires change orders to be placed on the commissioners' agenda two weeks in advance, he said. He wanted commissioners to give Hueter the authority to allow Lydig to move forward with a change order.

"Everybody is protected and Lydig is happy they are not doing work at their own risk," Christiansen said.

But Christiansen had received bad information, Commissioner Brad Peck said. Commissioners can put an item on the agenda the day before a meeting or call a special meeting with 48 hours notice.

"The board will be as responsive as we need to be, but don't hold us out as the guys who were going to delay the process," Peck said.

County administrator Fred Bowen already has the authority to approve change orders up to $5,000, officials said.

"I really get the feeling that this has been addressed," Peck said. "There's a solution in place but nobody's using it."

Hueter apologized to commissioners for the proposal, saying the intent is only to keep the project moving. It would cost $3,700 for each extra day Lydig works, he said.

"It was not our intent to put the burden on the commissioners," he said.

Also Wednesday:

- Commissioners delayed a request for a permit to allow a child-care facility at 7208 Argent Road. One of the stipulations is that the owner of the building, which is located in a residential area, would not be able to keep non-working vehicles on the property. They think he should be allowed, they said.

- Commissioners approved a conditional use permit to allow a 19 1/2 foot tall garage at 11712 Pheasant Run Road. Planning and building director Jerrod MacPherson said the owner wants to build an accessory building 1 1/2 feet taller than the normally acceptable height so he can put in a lift for antique cars he repairs.

- Commissioners heard a presentation from Vicki Haworth of Liberty Mutual Insurance, which is asking permission to offer a voluntary group savings insurance plan to county employees. County resident Roger Lenk spoke and blasted the proposal, saying the county should work with local businesses if it is to take part in such a program.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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