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Schools#8217; constuction nears

SOUTH POINT — Work is expected to begin on the new Burlington Elementary on April 28 with the construction start date for the South Point school slated for two weeks later, according to Mary Cogan, South Point Board of Education member.

About two weeks ago, the board awarded bids to replace the district’s two elementary schools — projects that have come under recent criticism concerning the use of companies that employ exclusively union labor.

The board will meet Monday in a specially called meeting at 6 p.m. at the old high school to advance the replacement projects.

“We should hopefully be issuing a notice to proceed on all bids,” Cogan said.

On May 1, the board will have a partnering session at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce headquarters with the contractors to meet with the site supervisors. Also expected in attendance will be School Superintendent Ken Cook, Bill Palonis of Bovis Lend Lease, the project manager, and Herb Young, the school board’s liaison on the construction.

Each building will be a one-floor structure with approximately 54,000 square feet in each.

On March 11 when the bids were opened, five of the nine lowest bids came in over the advertised bid package. Those bids totaled $15,383,974 or $135,200 over the advertised package estimate of $15,248,774. However, the low bid for the fire protection bid package from Certified Mechanical was withdrawn by the company.

That was replaced with the second lowest bid of $229,750 that came from Brewer & Co. of West Virginia.

Recently, an ad in The Ironton Tribune paid for by the Central Ohio Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. criticized a restriction it said the school board placed on the bidding process by requiring a project labor agreement. A PLA meant only union companies could bid on the job, the association said.

However, Steve Burton of the Tri-State Building and Trades Council, based in Ashland, Ky., said at that time that was not correct.

“There is nothing in the PLA that keeps anyone from bidding the project or being awarded the project as long as they work by the terms and conditions of what the South Point school board determined to be needed,” Burton said at that time. “The terms and conditions of the PLA are perfectly legal and no one is denied the right to bid and be awarded the project.”

South Point’s PLA was identical to the one used on the Ironton schools’ replacement project, Burton said then.

That agreement states while union and non-union workers may be hired, all workers must join and remain members in good standing with the union on the eighth day of employment. After the job is completed, those employees can leave the union, if they choose.