Injunction filed to delay school demolition

January 29, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

Solid Rock Construction, in West Portsmouth, filed an injunction in the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas last week against the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) in Columbus and New Boston Schools. The injunction temporarily prevents the school from rebidding a contract to demolish the recently emptied Stanton and Oak schools.

According to New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs, when the district began accepting bids to demolish the two buildings, they failed to put the new school address as the return location.

“The completed bid documents were to be returned to Glenwood. Well, about a week before that we moved over to the new building,” Staggs said. “All bidders returned the packet back to the treasurer. At the time that we put that announcement out, the treasurer was located at 522 Glenwood Avenue (the old school). In actuality, when those were due, the treasurer was located at 1 Glenwood Tiger Trail (the new school).”

The bids were opened at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 29, and Solid Rock Construction, in West Portsmouth, was the low bidder. Owner Bill Whitaker said his bid was about $10,000 less than anyone else, and about $72,000 under the project estimate. He was given the keys to the buildings and things began moving forward— until he got a phone call saying the school had to rebid the project.

Staggs explained that after opening the bids, the school discovered another bid packet which had been delivered to Glenwood Avenue. The school received it late, but delivery tracking confirmed it had arrived before the deadline. That bid, from NCM Demolition in Cincinnati, was reportedly lower than Solid Rock.

“At that point in time, OSFC said, ‘We need time to reconsider whether or not we can accept any bids because we may have had a flaw,’” Staggs said.

Whitaker says that’s not what happened. He said the bid came in two hours late, but then attorneys for NCM Demolition threatened to sue the state of Ohio and New Boston school if they did not rebid. That, Whitaker said, was when the state of Ohio decided to revoke Solid Rock’s contract. A spokesperson for NCM Demolition was not available Tuesday to comment.

Now if Solid Rock has to rebid for the contact, Whitaker said everyone already knows his bid amount and they might under-cut him.

“The bottom line is, that’s truly why they do it. They look for an excuse. And it’s not New Boston School. You have to understand, it’s really not them. They’re just listening to the Ohio School Facilities Commission. A majority of funding comes from the state of Ohio, so they’re more or less controlling the money and telling them what they can do and what they can’t do,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker said his problem is more with the OSFC than with New Boston School, and New Boston Superintendent also had kind things to say about Solid Rock. Staggs said Solid Rock did all of the soil work at the new school site, and even came back at the request of the OSFC to install a gravel road to give the village of New Boston access to sewer covers on the school property.

“He (Whitaker) has done a great job on this building,” Staggs said. “He’s come back and done extra work that he could have raised a fuss about, but he didn’t. He has been a very good partner on this project, and me personally, I would love to see a local company get the work.”

The New Boston School Board is responsible for awarding contracts, based on the lowest bidder, and the Ohio School Facilities Commission oversees and approves that process. The OSFC would not comment on the pending court action.

The matter will be heard in the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 7.

Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com.