NEWBERRY — A bid from Coogler Construction Inc. in the amount of $717,513 for the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park grading and concrete pad project was approved by Newberry County Council during its meeting this week.
County Administrator Wayne Adams said the county had “vigorous interest” in the bidding and of the seven bids, Coogler Construction was the lowest.
The other bids were McClam & Associates, $743,684; Martin Brothers Construction, $829,475; Wiley Easton Construction Co. Inc., $953,000; Graham County Land Company, $969,788; Richardson Construction Company Inc., $978,883; and J.C. Wilkie Construction LLC, $1,324,246.
The low bid from Coogler Construction is also under the project’s budget, which was set at $933,650.
“This by the way, is all being paid for by grants from the Department of Commerce and Newberry Electric Cooperative. Our portion is being met by the timber sales out at the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park,” Adams said.
The contract for the grading and concrete pad states that the work must be completed in 60 days, with consideration for weather delays. There are also liquidated damages, $1,500, for failure to complete in a timely manner.
“There is an economic development prospect that is very interested in this property, and the January 1 deadline for it to be pad-ready is not negotiable. For that reason I will be suspending the 10-day protest period for this particular bid. Ten days between now and the end of this year is very significant, that could make up for any rain days we may have,” Adams said.
Councilman Les Hipp added that Alliance Consulting Engineers will have on-site quality control monitoring for this project since the timeline is critical and the weather could have significant impact.
In other business, Council received a check for $110,000 from AT&T for economic development purposes. The funds will be used for clearing and grading the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park ($100,000) and marketing the I-26 Mega Site ($10,000).
During the check presentation, Ike Byrd with AT&T also gave some news about the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park.
“We have just signed an agreement with Newberry County to designate the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park as AT&T fiber ready,” Byrd said. “What that does is give Rick (Farmer) and you folks here one other tool to market the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park. We just started that Fiber Ready Program here in South Carolina.”
Byrd added that this is not an exclusive agreement, and the county can use other providers. This is just a tool to help promote the park.
In other business, resident Donald Berry spoke during public comments about the seizure and sale of his property.
Berry spoke to Council about a year ago about the seizure and sale of his property under a court order. Council ruled that due process was followed, and they did not feel they had the right, or authority, to change the law.
“You all provided me with a ruling that did not address the issues that I brought up. That ruling, and I made it perfectly clear when I spoke with you last year, that I was not disputing the due process that was given to me by the county with the seizure and sale of this property,” Berry said. “I gave you proof that these properties were under the jurisdiction of the Family Court legal system, which both the State and Federal law provide that I have rights to that due process, that is the due process that I was disputing, not the due process that was administered by the county.”
He added that he did not ask Council to change the law. He asked them to comply with the law and cited the 14th Amendment due process clause, which prohibits state or local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty or property without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness.
“When you decide to seize and sell my property, that is under litigation, you are cutting off my process to that due process that I am guaranteed under the 14th Amendment,” Berry said.
Berry said that Council was recognizing the law that provides them the ability to seize and sell property, but not the law that protects him. He added that another property is coming up on Nov. 3, the one he lives in, and he will be homeless if they do not void the sale.
Councilman Henry Livingston cited that Berry received a letter on Sept. 21 in regards to the sale, and he waited four weeks to say anything. He also said that he would have the county attorney look at his claim and see if there is any validity, and if there is any obligation the county has.
“I would like something in writing to support, if you are going to continue this process, I would like something in writing to support your decision,” Berry said. “Are you going to get back with me rapidly, because we are within two weeks of my last property being sold.”
Livingston said he was not prepared to answer that.
Adams said that the law that has to do with the sale of property applies to all Newberry County residents, adding that he thinks the answer he gets this year will not be any different than the answer he got last year.
• Council approved a resolution declaring Sen. Ronnie Cromer a “distinguished advocate for economic development.”
• Council approved a bid from Martin & Son in the amount of $72, 800 for courthouse grounds grading and improvements.
• Council approved a bid for a Public Works salt shed from Henley Construction in the amount of $73,875.
• Council approved a proposal from VC3 Communications for information technology managed services for $102,826 a year. The contract is for three years.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.