Alva Review-Courier -

Freedom Town Board sets bid opening date for gas line project

• Concha Herrera sworn in as new board member


September 16, 2020

The Town of Freedom Board of Trustees said adios to one board member and howdy to another, Concha Herrera, at its regular meeting last Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Town Clerk Cindy Reed read aloud board member Randy Rhodes' official letter of resgnation, which said that he has accepted a promotion with his current employer that required him to move out of state. He expressed his great appreciation of the town and the other town staff. Rhodes' last day was Aug. 31.

Mayor Shad Brackin then introduced Concha Herrera to the board (which at that point consisted of himself and Rolando Galindo). Herrera has served on several boards in the past, and her solid business experience can only be an asset. Herrera takes the Ward 2 seat formerly held by Rhodes.

After being sworn in, Brackin and Galindo welcomed her to the board and she read her oath of office and loyalty oath.

Then the board got down to business.

Gas Line Project Final Bid Date Modified

The primary matter on the table was, once again, the CDBG grant. This time the board was considering whether to modify the bid and final bid date for work on the gas line project.

The bidding had been set for Sept. 17 with a bid opening on Oct. 7, one week before the October board meeting. (Some time is needed so that bidders' references can be checked.)

However, Brackin and Jennifer Firgard, the town's consultant on the grant process, met with contractors interested in bidding on the project and learned they had some work to do before bidding could happen.

“Jennifer and I had a pre-bid meeting with most contractors,” said Brackin, “and found out pretty quick we'll need to do a lot more engineering, detail it quite a bit more. We also got quite a bit of feedback that no one was very excited about the county doing the digging of it,” he said, adding that he guessed the reason was they thought a third party might create scheduling problems. Also, if the county does the digging, they would need to be supervised or qualified by DOT for excavation, he noted.

Brackin and Firgard decided to break the bids into three phases or sections. For each section, the contractor could bid on doing a turnkey project and/or doing only the back end of the job with the county doing the excavation.

That way, said Firgard, “If all the bids come in too high we could still get part of (the project) done – say, the first three miles” of gas line.

But they needed an engineer able to provide the specs and other information the contractors needed to be able to bid.

Firgard told the board she spoke with Jason Brinley, an engineer with Circuit Engineering District 8 out of Enid, of which Freedom is a member. He told her he can put together the packet of detailed engineering specifications and other information that the potential contractors who want to bid on the project have asked the town to give them. The cost would be $2,500.

Another issue has arisen since the meeting: Brackin told Firgard that the town has recently discovered that a section of gas line needs to be replaced. He asked if that could be folded into the current grant.

“We can only add more line if there's more money in the budget,” Firgard said, “like, say, if the bids come in below budget. I don't think we're going to have any extra money.” If, when it's time to award bids, they decide to have one contractor do a turnkey project, Firgard doubted the money would cover the whole project as it is.

“So, for the border, under the scope of this, we'd need to locate a surveyor to survey the job to give us exactly what our right of way is,” said Brackin, “and then Jason, or whoever we choose, can figure the exact footages and then get down to the nitty gritty of what needs to go into the next bid packet.”

After a good deal of discussion about what the bid opening date should be changed to, the board ultimately approved changing it to Tuesday, Oct. 27th, at 9 a.m. The bids can be opened that morning by Brackin and Firgard, and then the board could award the winning bid at the regular November board meeting. “That gives everybody a ton of time” for all of the administrative steps involved, Firgard said.

The board also approved a purchase order for Jason Brinley to pay for the engineering specifications packet, should the board decide to hire him for the job.

Estimate of Needs Approved, Other Business

Reed reported that the town office had received their estimate of needs for 2020-21 that day – good news, Reed said, because that means “the excise board can assess it and approve it so we can start getting our appropriations for the funding year.” They ended last year with a total cash fund balance of $125,795.59, she noted.

“Good job, treasurer,” said Brackin.

The board also approved the previous meeting's minutes, and purchase orders for the general, ambulance, fire and grant funds.

As the meeting wound down, Brackin said, “I don't think our normal contractor is going to bid on this contract. I'm kind of waiting to hear from him if he wants to take it on from a contract position, but like I said I don't think he's going to bid on the project. Did Jennifer (Firgard) say Brinley had designed some of Enid's system? I'd like to see what Travis (Harrison) comes up with first. He's not a stamped engineer, but he certainly understands the job in Freedom.”

“We'll need to know something from Travis at least by Friday,” said Reed.

Brackin said if they haven't heard from Harrison by then, they will sign the contract with Brinley.

Reed suggested making a motion pending approval, “then if he doesn't get back with you, you can just sign it and email it in.” Brackin agreed.


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