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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bell denies business claims

Monday, January 12, 2004

The facts surrounding demolition of the old grocery store behind the courthouse aren't all out, according to Jeff Bell.

Bell, proprietor of Jeff A. Bell Construction and Excavating, Inc., said that many factors come into deciding the price put on a bid, and when all the facts are present, the company actually lowered its price by approximately $16,000.

After some faulty paperwork at an open bid session of a County Commissioners meeting, the Commissioners decided to reject all bids and give Bell, whose bid was the lowest of the bunch, a second chance to work for the county. His second bid was nearly $20,000 higher than his first, but still the lowest of the bunch.

"There were some different things that came into play the second time around," Bell said. "There was a lot more competition for the bid the first time, and prices change when everyone knows everyone's prices the first time."

Bell's main point, however, is that his second bid is actually lower than his first when one considers "alternate" work that has to be done.

"There's a tunnel leading from the grocery store's boiler building to the courthouse," he said. "Whoever does the demolition has to seal that tunnel off in four places and fill in a manhole.

"The county had the bidders put that in as an alternate because they didn't know if they'd have the money to do it. I think it's pretty important to do, though, because if it doesn't get blocked off, the tunnel will slowly sink into the ground and make the ground above it sink, as well."

Bell said that his original bid, with the alternate included, was $107,255. The second time around, the bid was $91,340, a difference of $15,915.

"We work hard to cultivate good publicity," he said. "I really think that they need that alternate, or it's going to cause a lot of problems in the future. When you look at the numbers like that, you can see that I actually dropped my price by a bit. From a positive standpoint, we dropped it by about $16,000."

One thing that Bell wants to make very clear is that he is not taking the county for a $20,000 ride.

"I don't see how that's the case," he said, when asked about his response to the allegations of bad business practices. "The county elected to rebid the project. Sometimes a second bid is higher, sometimes the second bid is lower."

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