Construction problems still plague courthouse
It’s been more than a year since Morgan County government offices moved out of the temporary trailers and into the new courthouse. Yet many construction issues and problems with the building remain unresolved.
On Tuesday afternoon, August 30, county officials met with the building’s designers to discuss the outstanding issues.
Attending the session were Morgan County Commissioners Stacy Dugan, Brenda Hutchinson and Brad Close, County Administrator Jody McClintock, Prosecutor Debra McLaughlin, Information Technology Director Dave McDonald, Architects Thomas Potts and Sean Simon of Silling Associates. and Mechanical Engineer Mike Wesner of Scheeser Buckley Mayfield, LLC.
The general contractor — Milestone Construction Company of Sterling, Va. – hasn’t returned to repair the problems listed on a punch list maintained by the commissioners since June 2010 as per the construction contract.
County officials are withholding payment of the last $260,000 and the architect is refusing to sign off on the completion of construction until all issues are resolved.
These issues range from relatively minor problems with windows that leak when it rains to more serious issues with malfunctioning heating and cooling systems.
Potts reported that he recently talked to Milestone president Keith Whitener, who was said to basically agree with the items on the punch list.
“It appears to me that Milestone is willing now, suddenly, to pick up the issues with all of our punches,” Potts said. But he cautioned he wanted to see an action plan with due dates.
“My concern is we had the same discussion a year ago and they never produced. Do we have any indication that they will follow through this time?” Commissioner Hutchinson asked.
“I just got the sense that he was serious about doing this,” Potts replied.
Heating & cooling
Potts said 53 heat pump units and two RTUs (Roof Top Units) need to have their strainers (filters) cleaned, as stated in the contract, to remove any impurities from the heating and cooling system left as a result of construction.
Prosecutor McLaughlin asked if the strainers need periodic cleaning. Wesner said the system is a closed loop and once clean, it will remain clean.
In response to a question by Commissioner Close, Potts said the heat pumps have a five-year warranty.
Another issue is that a pipe and several pumps in the mechanical room near the heat exchanger need to be moved.
McDonald said there are still bugs in the software that controls the heating and air conditioning systems.
McLauglin said she will send a letter and a copy of the punch list to the Milestone president, asking for a work plan and time frame for completion of each item.
The letter will inform Milestone that on September 15, the county commissioners will make a decision on whether to continue with Milestone or terminate the contract if no response is received by then.
If the commission terminates the contract, the county will keep the unpaid $260,000 and can use the funds to hire outside contractors to fix the building’s remaining problems, said Commission President Dugan.