Supers have ‘conflicts’ with construction bids

A rarely used state law may be a major factor in awarding a $4.5 million bid for the new Hancock County Health and Human Services facility.

The Hancock County Board of Supervisors opened bids for the project last week.

The low bidder was White Spunner Construction of Mobile with a total bid of $4.27 million.

The second low-bidder, GM&R of Waveland, offered a bid of $4.56 million.

The difference of the two bids is $33,000 or .7 percent.

County Attorney Ronnie Artigues said Monday that GM&R has sent a letter to the board requesting it be awarded the bid, because Mississippi has a “local-preference option” in the bid law if the second lowest bid is less than one percent more than the lowest bid.

“They have basically asked the board to consider the local company because their bid is within one percent of White Spunner’s,” Artigues said.

Both White Spunner and GM&R are currently doing Hurricane Katrina recovery projects in Hancock County.

White Spunner is constructing the new Bay St. Louis parking garage while GM&R has been awarded the new Waveland Fire Station on Highway 90.

Board of Supervisors President Rocky Pullman said Monday that the board has asked Artigues to check the legal statutes regarding the local-preference options.

Two supervisors, however, may not be allowed to participate in the discussion because of possible conflicts with both White Spunner and GM&R.

“I may only have three supervisors who are able to vote on this,” Artigues said.

District Four Supervisor Steve Seymour said Monday that he has done consulting work for White Spunner in the past, and he is life-long friends with the owner of the company.

Seymour did not participate in the bid opening process last week.

District Three Supervisor Lisa Cowand has a son who does subcontracting work for GM&R, but is not an employee of the company.

She said Monday she has asked Artigues for a legal opinion on whether she should vote.

Seymour pointed out that it is not unusual for supervisors to be employed or have family employed by companies which do business with the county.

District Two Supervisor David Yarborough has worked for dirt hauler Mitch Hardie and Pullman has a son who is employed by PSL North America.

Pullman said the board will probably discuss the bid at its next meeting on May 19.

The new Health and Human Services facility will be built at the site of the old Urgent Care on Highway 90.

The site is adjacent to the new Government Annex facility.

It will take the place of the old facility on Longfellow Ave. and contain all of the previous functions, including the health department, welfare department, child services, and the Mississippi State Extension Service.

The only department which will not be a part of the new facility will be the WIN Job Center, which has relocated to the old Wal Mart shopping center.

BY: Dwayne Bremer

The Sea Coast Echo

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