The debate over Jasper County jail construction bids and contract results in verbal wrangling at today's county commission meeting.
"You don't think we did our homework?" says Jasper County commissioner Jim Bartosh.
Tempers flare as commissioners defend their choice of contractors for jail renovations. Cornerstone Construction's bid came in at $816,000.
Frank Winkler with the 18 member Sheriffs Office Advisory Panel suggested bids be thrown out and new ones sought.
"Why is nobody else in the United States of America bidding on this?" Winklyer says. "Why didn't Simplex bid."
Simplex provides the current security system. Commissioners say its proposed repairs bid in 2010 may cost less but don't equal current bid specs.
"They didn't have fire alarms, door systems," Bartosh says. "They didn't have all the bid items. They didn't bid in the (latest) process."
Bids were at least $300,000.
Both sides admit there could be additional costs.
"We have a consultant that will keep track of those things," says Bartosh. "We always worry about those things, but you do in any kind of construction project... We have bridge projects all the time and you have change orders if they run into problems," Bartosh says.
Commissioners will set aside $400,000 in reserves and will seek bids on a loan to pay the balance.
Blaine Mitchell is a candidate for county commissioner, he argued against the loans and wanted an interest rate from current commissioners.
"Why would our county want to borrow money and cost us more interest when we have money on hand?" says Mitchell. "How much? You can't tell me. Enough said. 'we're putting this out for bid'. Blaine, give me a percentage on our loan."
"We're putting it out for bid," Commissioner Blaine Honey responds.
After cantankerous exchanges commissioners voted to accept the Cornerstone bid.
Commissioner Honey says their goal is to get the jail improvements completed to make it safer for inmates and guards, and he had hoped to end conflicts over the issue with the sheriffs office.