Houston commission OKs work projects

WARNER ROBINS — The Houston County Board of Commissioners awarded contracts to low bidders on two construction projects and accepted two grants during a short meeting Tuesday evening.

The commissioners chose Southern Concrete Co. to build a new bridge on Elko Road over Flat Creek. It is the third of four bridges on the road the county hopes to replace.

Southern’s bid of $737,393.71 was the lowest of five that ranged to a high of $978,256.05. The work will include installing a detour bridge and approaches, rerouting traffic to the detour, removing and replacing the old bridge and then restoring traffic to the new bridge and removing the detour bridge.

“This is a very good bid for this work,” Commissioner Larry Thomson said in making the motion to accept the bid. “A couple of years ago this would have cost us $1.2 million or $1.3 million. But people are needing work now.”

The commissioners also approved a bid of $64,201.25 from Lee and Sons Construction Co. to move the water line on Old Perry Road between East Bob White Road to Woodard Road. Lee and Sons was the low bidder among four companies, and the high bid was $98,363.85.

“This low bid is also a good price for this work,” Chairman Ned Sanders said, “so I guess this is a good time to be buying water lines and bridges, if you have the money for it.”

Funding for both projects is coming from special purpose local option sales tax proceeds.

The commissioners also voted to accept a $22,300 federal Project Safe Neighborhood Grant that will be used to help reduce gang and gun crime, and a $50,000 federal Stop Violence Against Women grant that will help pay for two existing positions in the district attorney’s office – an assistant district attorney and investigator who focuses on violent crimes against women. The county must provide a $16,667 local match for the $50,000 grant.

“We’ve gotten the Stop Violence Against Women grant for four years, and it is a big help in the DA’s office,” said Commissioner Gail Robinson.

The commissioners also approved a new setup for providing funds to cover its costs for Other Post-Employment Benefits to retired county workers, namely health and dental insurance. In the past the county has paid for the program as needed, recording an expense only after employees retired and a payment was made. But because of new governmental accounting standards, it is setting up a fund that will include payments made during the employees’ working years.

The commissioners approved designating $308,345 from the 2008 fund balance from unexpended health funds and $298,029 it had budgeted in 2009 for post employee benefits to establish the new OPEB Reserve account.

To contact writer Chuck Thompson, call 923-6199, extension 235.