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Dayton firm wins bid for Union-Rome sewer project

A Dayton firm was awarded the bid to build the new Union-Rome Sewer District Thursday after the engineering firm in charge of the project weighed in on the legality of awarding the contract.

Shook Heavy and Environmental Group’s bid of $23,823,359.05 was accepted at the weekly Lawrence County Commission meeting.

Earlier in the week, Doug Cade, of E.L. Robinson and Associates, sent a memo to the commissioners advising them that a complaint by McDaniel Electric Company, of Huntington, W.Va., should not hold up the bid process and the project should be awarded to Shook.

McDaniel was one of two outfits that submitted a bid only for electrical services. Two other outfits submitted lump sum bids for the entire project, with Shook handing in the lowest.

McDaniel executives complained, claiming, among other things, the county should have asked for both individual bids on heating and cooling and on plumbing, and lump sum bids for the whole project to determine which was lowest. The matter was sent to the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

Cade said based on an opinion from the prosecutor’s office that the bid process was fair and legal, his outfit determined McDaniel’s complaints were not significant enough to hold up the project.

Commissioner Jason Stephens said the focus now is on finding financing to pay for the project and on planning for the long-term growth in that area. The eastern end of the county has seen new development over the last 5-10 years and county leaders are convinced that growth will continue.

They would also like to see areas not yet served by the sewer system to be included in it. He pointed to recent U.S. Census figures as evidence of this.

“All of Lawrence has increased in population with the eastern end increasing dramatically,” Stephens said. “I think the wastewater treatment plant will lead to more growth, lead to a better life. We need a strategic plan to include more communities and we need to work with the water companies to move toward a consumption billing process.”

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has approved a 20-year loan of up to $25 million, but that money has to be repaid. Five million for the project is included in the federal Water Resources Development Act that is making its way through Congress in Washington.

County officials have gotten other grants to pay for design and engineering and hope other grants can be secured in the future as well.

The plans to build the new sewer system have been beset with a few problems lately. When bids came in over budget this spring, commissioners were forced to rebid the project.

The state EPA is requiring local officials to build the new facility. During an inspection two years ago, state officials determined the system did not inadequately remove ammonia from its sewage discharge.

The ammonia is deadly to species such as flathead minnows and water fleas that live in local waterways. The new plant will more than double the capacity of the old one, insuring adequate accommodation for growth in the eastern end in the future.

Construction on the new facility should begin by fall.