Darren Doyle, story
The fiscal court agreed to take no action once again on a construction bill submitted to the county from Starnes Construction for work done back in August of this year. The bill was submitted for additional work done at the HWY 70 ballparks in order to repair a severe drainage issue. The original job was completed back in the summer of 2015.
Greg Hudson, Parks and Rec program administrator, said that the company was originally hired to repair the drainage issue and that they gave the park a guarantee that if the work didn't fix the job, they would return at no additional charge.
Hudson said that the drainage problems still occurred after the initial work was completed and the park requested the company to return. The company sent a sub-contractor back to the park to try something else, but the workers were unable to complete the job in the specific area discussed and had to adjust their plan. The contractors completed another round of digging and the county was later presented another bill from Starnes Construction for $2326.04.
Here's where it gets tricky:
There was no written agreement between the county and the construction company. The magistrates say a deal is a deal and since the work was guaranteed, the county shouldn't owe another bill. They say they hired a company to repair a problem and was given a guarantee. They also feel that no matter what type of work that was done, the company should honor their guarantee.
Starnes Construction said they've done exactly what they were asked to do. They said that they were initially hired to install a drain and they did. They also say that drain has worked properly since the beginning. According to the contracting company, the additional problems encountered at the park since the original work was because of other conditions and had nothing to do with the initial work the company was hired to do. The construction company said they had a verbal agreement with Judge Executive Wil Cannon to return and perform a specific scope of work but that was changed by Greg Hudson at the site. Starnes Construction said no one was able to contact Cannon at that time and rather than holding up the entire job, the company completed the work at Hudson's request.
The fiscal court has postponed payment three different times since receiving the bill; each time, allowing another opportunity for a representative of the company to attend the next fiscal court meeting. No one from the company attended today's meeting either, but company owner Don Starnes sent a text message to Judge Cannon, A.B. Webb, Sheriff Shane Doyle, Magistrate Mark Woosley, and Edmonson Voice Editor Darren Doyle explaining the stance of the company. Park Director A.B. Webb read the message aloud to the court.
"Was hired to install French drain with open ditch with rock open and level with grade, we were advised that it must be covered with dirt causing French drain unable to work 100%. Met with Judge Will Cannon And agreed to come back and blade in a surface ditch above first drain installed, at no charge. While attempting to install bladed surface ditch, Greg Hudson advised he wanted another French drain installed above first drain, but this time leave open to the top grade which would allow water from Bank of lake to be diverted to existing waterway. This is the same procedure we attempted to install The first work that was agreed on. Ball park fence post were removed and reset to accomplish second drain. I myself gave judge will canon my word and guarantee before we started any excavating that drain would work sufficiently and dry up trouble spot . A French drain cannot function properly if it is not left open so to catch and divert. By having us cover The first French drain installed with dirt is the reason it did not work. I attempted to reach judge will canon when Greg Hudson advised he wanted second drain installed, but could not make contact with him, so I advised My men on job to follow Greg Hudson's instructions. Thank you Don Starnes /Starnes construction LLC."
Mr. Starnes also told us that he'd advised Magistrate Mark Woosley that the court could do away with the bill if they thought they didn't owe it.
Judge Cannon said he didn’t want the local government known as an entity that didn’t pay their bills and he recommended that the fiscal court pay it and move on, even though he didn't agree with how the matter had been handled. He said he'd learned a lesson to have future agreements in writing so that there would be no question.
Magistrate Joe Durbin said he was not in favor of paying the bill, as a guarantee meant exactly that. Mag. Woosley said he was also opposed to paying the $2326.04 bill until Mr. Starnes attended fiscal court and explained his situation in person.
All the court agreed that the subcontractors who returned to the site that actually completed the work did a great job and did what the court asked, however, they argued that the additional work done should’ve been included in Starnes Construction’s guarantee.
The court agreed to take no action until Mr. Starnes attended fiscal court and spoke in person.