Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 23, 2018

Weidner is the one

Nebraska firm will be architect for law enforcement center/jail
Sep 28, 2017

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


And the winner is...Rick Weidner & Associates.

Henry County supervisors awarded the architectural contract for the new county law enforcement center/jail to the Blessington, Neb., firm Wednesday after completing interviews with three finalists for the services.

Weidner was interviewed Tuesday and Wednesday the supervisors interviewed Shive-Hattery Architecture-Engineering of West Des Moines, and Design Alliance, also of West Des Moines.

In the end, it came down to Weidner and Shive-Hattery. Supervisors quickly dismissed Design Alliance from the race due to uncertainty that the firm could adhere to the supervisors’ timeline.

The board wants the solicitation of bids for the project to occur in January or February of 2018, but David Harrison of Design Alliance hedged when asked if he could meet that deadline. “It would be real aggressive to have documents done in February,” Harrison began. “We are very busy right now. Everything would have to fall into place. We would do everything we could to meet the deadline.”

Weidner and Shive-Hattery both said they would have no problem having the specifications completed in January or February.

Several factors weighed in Weidner’s favor. First of all, his fixed fee of $465,000 was the most reasonable. Shive-Hattery said its fee would be between $468,000 and $507,200, and Design Alliance’s asking price was $544,000.

Other bonus points for Weidner included him having the most experience of all the firms in jail construction; he has worked extensively with Midwest Construction Consultants (at least 11 projects) and he was favored by Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee.

Weidner’s reimbursable allowance not to exceed $10,000 ranked with Design Alliance as the lowest. Shive-Hattery projected from $58,550 to $75,620 in reimbursable costs, which include paper, mileage and miscellaneous expenses.

McNamee has been a strong supporter of Weidner since the proposals were received. He based that support on conversations he’s had with county sheriffs and tours of jails in which Weidner served as architect.

Steve Davis, a senior justice architect with Shive-Hattery, said his firm would compile plans for a 55-bed jail, expandable to 80 beds. “You shouldn’t need any more than one control panel for an 80-bed jail,” he added.

Michael Lewis, a team leader/project manager for Shive-Hattery, told supervisors that it was important to solicit bids in January or February and also pointed out that construction costs are rising on an average of 4-6 percent per year. “You want to get bids in January or February because that is the best time of the year to advertise for bids.”

Commenting on a possible site, Supervisor Gary See said the board may know soon whether a tract of land is available on the former Mental Health Institute (MHI) campus. He said the site near Christamore House is also in play. “If the prison (MHI) site doesn’t work, we have another site to look at. Right now, I don’t have a favorite site.” See did not divulge the location of the third site being considered for the law enforcement center.

Despite being pressed repeatedly by the supervisors, Davis and Lewis wouldn’t give a firm figure on Shive-Hattery’s fee. “It would probably be on the low range (5.8 percent) of the scale,” Lewis noted. “The difference in our fee would be determined by the number of meetings required and consultants needed. I can’t tell you exactly where we would be in that fee range. We would lock in the fee at the start of construction.”

Asked for his recommendation, McNamee said he is remaining with his first choice. “My first choice is Weidner. He has the lowest fee and reimbursables cost, but I would not be disappointed with Shive-Hattery. I think all the firms are qualified. Compatibility with the supervisors is important. My opinion hasn’t changed. Rick Weidner is compatible and he is very good.”

“I concur,” said Supervisor Greg Moeller.

Supervisor Chairman Marc Lindeen said he is glad the board interviewed the firms “because now we have something to base our decision on.”

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