Darren Doyle, story
The fiscal court took issue with a bill from a local contractor that they say they shouldn't owe. Judge Cannon said the bill was for work that he understood to be included in a previous job that was completed last fall.
Magistrate Clark Wood raised a question about the excavation bill presented to fiscal court for recent drainage work done at the Highway 70 Ball Park. The bill was in the amount of $2,326.04 from Starnes Construction, a local contracting company.
Judge Cannon said it was his understanding that when the county hired the company to repair severe drainage issues on two of the ball fields, the project was guaranteed to work. He said, and has said in multiple meetings, that in the event the drainage project needed additional work, the company said they would return and provide additional work at no charge.
Cannon said that when he asked the company about the bill, the owner said the company never intended any additional work to be at no charge. Judge Cannon said that not only he, but also Parks and Rec Director A.B. Webb and Program Director Greg Hudson understood any additional work would be at no cost.
"When looking at the agreement we made with Mr. Starnes last year, it appears that nothing was in writing, it was all verbal," Cannon said. "It's a mistake that I won't let happen again. From now on, any work that the county contracts out, there will be a written contract."
We spoke with Mr. Starnes regarding the additional work that was done at the park. Starnes said the original work that was done included a curtain drain system to pull water away from low-lying, wet areas. He said that that particular work was completed and is properly working. He said the problems that the park is now experiencing is due to a leaking pond on property above the park and is a separate issue from what he was originally hired to do.
According to Starnes, he had worked out a deal with Judge Cannon to return to the park and cut a new ditch under the dam underneath the pond to divert the leak away from the ball field, which would be at no cost. However, he says that when a Starnes sub-contractor showed up to begin the work, Program Director Hudson decided to change the scope of work and that Hudson requested a new curtain drain system to be installed.
Starnes said he tried to reach Judge Cannon to see if that would be approved by the county but had no luck. Instead of halting the job, Starnes said he gave approval to the sub-contractor to complete the work that Hudson had requested.
Program Director Hudson said that's not how it happened. He said he met the sub-contractor at the field to make sure everyone was on the same page in regards to the additional work.
"The sub-contractor attempted to dig the ditch around the dam but it was far too wet," Hudson said. "The backhoe kept getting hung up and no matter what he did, it wasn't working. It wasn't the sub-contractor's fault, it was just too wet to dig a ditch there."
Hudson said it was a mutual decision between he and the sub-contractor to try something else in order to fix the drainage issue, which according to Hudson, was to move the outfield fence in a few feet and dig and install a new drain in a different location other than the bottom of the pond dam.
"The work was never properly done to begin with," said Hudson. "We hired the company to fix a drainage problem, no matter where the water came from, whether it's from a leaking pond or wherever. Mr. Starnes knew this before any work was done. We still don't even know if it's going work."
Mr. Starnes said no county officials have contacted him so far regarding today's meeting.
Magistrates voted to put payment of the bill on hold until Mr. Starnes could either be reached with regards of clarifying the agreement or he could appear at the next fiscal court meeting to address the court.