Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Clay Council demands answers on Fire Department delays

Councilman Todd Vanover (L) and Engineer Duke Gaston
discuss some of the issues at the new Clay Fire Station
J-E News Editor
When members of the Clay City Council voted to accept a bid to construct their new fire station back in January, they did so believing that they would take possession of the structure no later than June 30, 2014. Actually, according to the contract, that was the deadline for the construction to be completed.

As the two month anniversary of that date approaches, city officials still find themselves locked out of their own building. A building that comes with a price tag of $249,000.
Fire chief Jeremy Moore told council members last Tuesday night that he had contacted project engineer Duke Gaston of Gaston Engineering on several occasions and had not received a response.
“I emailed him this morning and told him that I needed a response by 6:00 p.m. to read to the council tonight, and he said he would have an update,” Moore said. “I just checked my email and did not have anything.”
In a phone call on Friday, Gaston told the J-E that Clay officials had been dealing directly with work crews throughout the construction process, not coming through his office.
Construction on the project seemed to be moving along on schedule, right up to the very last minute. That was when Moore said workers put the wrong paint down on the fire truck bay. Crews were supposed to remove the paint and redo the floor, a process that required them to lock the building to keep anyone from walking on the floor. Nearly two months later the doors remain locked and the floors remain unfinished.
During his report to the council, Moore said there were other issues that had arisen. He said that the bathroom stalls were not done according to the contract and that workers had left a bare electric wire in one of the cabinets. He also reported that when a work crew from a separate contract arrived to install the sirens outside the building, it was discovered that the building contractor had used aluminum wiring for the three-phase circuit that went to the sirens.
The contract, according to Moore, read that aluminum wires were ‘prohibited’.
“If they didn’t do this right, how do we know they’ve done everything else right?” asked council member Patti Dennis. “We really need to have someone else take a look at it.”
“Is the aluminum wire a major safety issue?” asked councilman Todd Vanover.
“In reality it isn’t, but aluminum is about half the price of copper,” replied Mayor Rick Householder. “We paid for copper. They need to do it they way it was contracted.”
As of Friday the council had requested city attorney Ben Leonard to look through the contract. They had also requested that engineer Duke Gaston and the contractor, Kentucky Contracting LLC of Dixon, attend a special called meeting on the night of Tuesday, August 19, 2014.
“This is something we have to address now,” said Vanover. “They’ve had two months since the deadline to make things right. If they don’t have things corrected by Tuesday, they need to come here and talk to us face-to-face.”


Clay city council members met with engineer Duke Gaston and contractor David Miller on Tuesday night for an update on the status of the new Clay Fire Station. A face-to-face meeting seemed to be just what was needed, because by the time the meeting was adjourned, all issues seemed to be addressed and all sides had agreed to a tentative 30 day completion date - date could be extended if more time is needed to refinish the floors.
“I’m the engineer that designed this building,” Gaston told the council. “There are some things I’ll raise my hand and say we should have done differently. But my responsibility somewhat stops at the end of the design phase.”
Gaston pointed out that on some of the issues the council were concerned with, an employee of the city had given Miller and his people directions that didn’t exactly go with what he’d had in mind when he drew the plan. Once a representative of the city had okayed a change, however, he said he felt it wasn’t his place to tell the contractor ‘no’.
As construction moves through the final 30 days, the council has appointed Fire Chief Jeremy Moore to be Miller’s official contact person with the city. Miller also requested that members of the council be involved in any future decision making to prevent further miscommunications. 
Read the next edition of The Journal-Enterprise for a more in-depth look of the meeting and the council’s concerns.

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