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Steed advocates open bidding

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Nelson Steed, a principal of Steed Brothers Contractors of Lebanon, concludes in a final paragraph of a letter dated March 20, 2008, to a number of county elected officials that “my current belief is that it is in the best interest of the taxpayers of Wilson County to require all Projects to be competitively bid. I say this with the full understanding that this could very well cost my company future Work, for we may not always be the lowest bidder.”

Steed’s company has been engaged in an ongoing conflict with developer Hewlett-Spencer, the company awarded the contract to have the new Mt. Juliet High School built as well as a number of other county government construction projects.

While Hewlett-Spencer was awarded the contract by the county to be the developer responsible for building the Mt. Juliet High School, Steed Brothers Contractors was hired by Hewlett-Spencer for the actual construction of the school.

MJHS BACK ON TRACK -- Steed The Wilson Post Tuesday that the construction of the new Mt. Juliet High School is “getting back on track.” Steed said an electrical contractor has been secured to replace JH Electric Company which was forced to default in its role on the construction project.

The new electrical contractor hired by Steed Brothers is Broadway Electric, a Knoxville company.

Steed said getting an electrical contractor back on the job has been vitally important to moving forward with the construction project.

“Our company, including all of its employees, is working diligently to provide use of the school by August,” Steed said.

He said he could not guarantee or promise a completion date by August but added “we’re making a determined effort to get the school ready for use by then.”

He said his company is working with county school officials to provide opportunities for the process of moving into the school to begin before actual completion.

“We’re attempting to get certain areas of the school ready or near completion so the process of moving can begin. We’re doing this on an area by area basis and working with the school system in this effort,” Steed said.

The primary subject of a letter sent by Steed on March 20, 2008 to County Attorney Mike Jennings with copies addressed to several county officials including members of the county school board involved an explanation for a delay in the construction of the new Mt. Juliet High School.

Steed explained in the letter that progress on the project had been slowed because of a death which resulted in the eventual default on the construction job by JH Electric Company, the electrical contractor.

Steed says in his letter that the project developer, Hewlett-Spencer, was advised about the development and told that his company anticipated a six- to eight-week delay in order to accomplish the process of “soliciting, bidding and contracting” with a replacement contractor.  

Steed notes in the letter that the developer was made aware of the situation involving the electrical contractor in February but failed to advise the Wilson County Board of Education of the expected construction delays at the board’s meeting in March.

Steed’s letter was addressed to County Attorney Mike Jennings with copies being addressed to members of the school board, the county commission, county mayor, county finance director, director of schools, and deputy director of schools.

Steed asked Jennings in the letter to inform the school board that the original completion date for the Mt. Juliet High School was to be July 18, 2008, but “due to weather delays and over 50 Change Directives resulting from Fire Marshal requirements and owner requests, the current completion date is November 1, 2008.”

   Steed maintains in his letter that “Since Hewlett-Spencer has denied access of local projects to our local contractors in favor of out-of-town builders and abandoned the value added practices that serve the private sector, the cost of school construction in Wilson County has increased over $100 per square foot and is far above the cost of surrounding counties.”

His conclusion is that the county should abandoned its program of offering construction projects to a developer and instead return to a policy of competitive bidding on all local government construction projects.

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