After some deliberation, the Clay County Commissioners awarded work on two bridge projects.
In a special meeting Thursday, the commissioners questioned representatives from Allender Trucking, Inc., Brazil, who provided the lowest quotes on the projects -- one is Bridge No. 245 in Lewis Township on County Road 400 West, 0.2 miles north of CR 1350 S, and the other is located on CR 1300 N., near CR 450 W -- during a separate special meeting Monday.
The commissioners had tabled the issue in order to learn more about the company, because it is the first quotes they had submitted, before awarding the work.
"I'm not doubting your work, I just would like to know more about your company to make sure you have the ability to do the work," Commissioners' President Charlie Brown said.
Clay County Highway Superintendent Pete Foster also had his own hesitations about hiring Allender without knowing their abilities.
"I'm looking out for the people of Clay County and we have got to watch what we are doing here," Foster said. "We've taken it for granted for so many years that we had two companies doing most of the bridge work."
Commissioner Paul Sinders proceeded to ask a line of questions regarding the scope of work provided in the request for quotes and if Allender had the necessary equipment and an adequate understanding of the quote.
While Bryan Allender, owner of Allender Trucking, Inc., said his company did have the right equipment and understood what the project entailed, there was a new hitch his company had never encountered.
"We do have experience putting bridges in, but we have never put in a flat car," Allender said.
Brown expressed that Allender's lack of experience with flat cars was a concern, along with how the scopes are not specific enough.
However, Sinders said he felt Allender had the experience and ability to get the job done.
"Every company we've had put a flat car in was their first and everyone has to start somewhere," he said. "You can't necessarily put a knock on them just because they haven't done something before, plus I think they are bringing good experience to the table."
While the commissioners unanimously approved to accept the quotes from Allender, Brown emphasized he felt the scope of work provided needs to be analyzed.
"Maybe we need to include a drawing approximating what the bridge should look like when it is finished," he said. "We have a good base to work from at this time, but we need to tweak it. We're not engineers and I would like to emphasize that I don't have a problem with the workers, but with the specifications."
Brown also suggested the possibility of no longer using flat cars to replace bridges, which Sinders emphatically disputed.
"I think it is a safe and cost-effective way to do things in Clay County," Sinders said. "When FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was here after the flood, they were very impressed with what we are doing, and they can be tough to work with at times. Typically, they would only reimburse work that brings something back to its initial state and we had to sell them on the idea of improving on what we had and they agreed."
Meanwhile, the commissioners approved, and signed, a contract with Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering, Terre Haute, to get started on the USDA Rural Enterprise Grant Rail Study.
Sinders said the contract approval comes at a great time to allow Hannum, Wagle and Cline to conduct flyovers of the area to take pictures before leaves begin to appear on trees.
The next regular meeting of the Clay County Commissioners will be Monday, April 6, at 9 a.m., in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.