Field house project hits funding snag
Bids for building come in much higher than expected

COVINGTON - Getting started on the new field house at Sharp Stadium may take a little longer than first expected.

The low bidder on the project is about $200,000 higher than officials at the Newton County School System anticipated.

"Sometimes they go well, and sometimes they don't," Ray Moore, architect for the project, told Newton County Board of Education members during Tuesday's monthly meeting.

NCSS officials reported that more than 20 contractors attended a pre-bid conference for the project, which was originally estimated to cost between $750,000 and $800,000, and 23 businesses submitted bids that ranged from $1,079,000 and $1,379,000; NCSS officials eliminated nearly $100,000 of work from the project to bring the cost down to $980,800.

Even with the eliminated costs, the project - which will provide a new building of locker rooms and concession stands - is still so far over budget that the school board and NCSS officials decided to hold off on accepting any bid until they can try to get bids even lower.

Moore said he plans to either talk to the low bidder, Hobgood Construction Group LLC out of Buford, and, if determined to be legal, the top two or three bidders to negotiate the price.

Board members were worried about the timeline of the project, which was expected to start this month or early next month. Moore said if work is started later in March, the timeline should allow the company to be finished in time for football season in the fall.

"If we get started anytime in March ... we'll still be on time," he said. "That will be in the criteria for anybody who (works on the project)."

During Tuesday's meeting, the board voted to table the motion to accept the low bidder until its March work session, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 10 in the Newton County BOE building, at 2109 Newton Drive in Covington. At that time, the board will determine if it will accept the low bidder or not or reject all bidders and open another bid project.

The board also hopes to repair the visitor bleachers, resurface the field and add a new scoreboard as part of the renovation project for the stadium if enough money remains in the SPLOST fund.

Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at NCSS, reiterated that the renovations are part of a SPLOST-funded project, which by law cannot be used for employee salaries or other school funding than what was designated in the voter-approved list for renovations, land purchases and construction at the stadium and other public schools.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.