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09/17/00 - Quick step taken to avert slowdown on Bear Creek Reservoir


The Barrow County News 

By LeAnne Turner                                                                    Sunday  September 17, 2000 

Short on material for dam

Quick step taken to avert slowdown 
on Bear Creek Reservoir


The Upper Oconee Basin Water Authority took the advice of its chairman and voted to save the finger-pointing for later. 
During an emergency session Friday morning, members of the basin authority spent 90 minutes developing an initial strategical move to keep the project moving forward.
Oconee County Commission Chairman Wendell Dawson, who serves as authority chairman, called the 10 a.m. session at the Northeast Georgia Regional Development Center in Athens.  Her explained the urgency of the quickly-called session.
In order to keep contractors on track to get the reservoir online and yielding water for Barrow, Oconee, Jackson and Athens-Clarke counties next summer as planned, Dawson said prompt action was required.
“We have some serious business,” Dawson said as he opened the session.
A budget matter as well as a schedule and time issue is how Dawson described the special called meeting to discuss a change order pertaining to the embankment and spillway contract with Specialized Services, Inc. (SSI) of Dublin.
A reported lack of materials available for excavation had the contractor for the dam, SSI, seeking a change order in the amount of $.5 million.  Additional material for the core and shell of the dam will be hauled from other locations on the project site.  The added costs are related to the borrow area and hauling of the estimated 310,000 cubic yards which will be needed.
Onsite construction overseer Jim Wrona of Jordan, Jones & Goulding has been working with SSI representatives.  George Byrd, Tamae Partain and Russell Small of Moreland Altobelli are working on the project management staff.
Wrona received a Sept. 14 letter from SSI project manager/engineer W. Richard Slade with a $78,660 total change order request.
“We’re running out of fill materials as we speak,” Dawson said.  If one begins to ask “how did we get here, this could deteriorate into a finger-pointing session.”
SSI maintains its bid was developed based on volume and quality of onsite material which could be used in construction of the dam on information from the bid documents.  “Based on information given by Golder Associates” is how Slade described how unit rate prices were determined.
Dawson reminded the authority of the regular meeting which was 10 days away, and suggested that the Sept. 27 session or another called meeting would be a more suitable occasion to address blame for the situation.  He pointed out that the contractor, SSI, was not represented.
Wilson Etienne, Terry McClean and Randy Sullivan from Golder Associates attended the meeting.
Dawson said there were some other issues which would no doubt require discussion related to “the blame game.  There’s a lot to go around.”
The Sept. 27 meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and include an executive session to discuss what Dawson called “legal liability questions.”
Byrd and Wrona provided some explanation of the materials issue.
“SSI will in good faith endeavor to complete the increased scope within the present revised completion date,” Slade wrote.
At Friday’s meeting, the authority approved SSI’s requested $16,712.50 change order for additional concrete needed at the site.
“A lack of competent rock being present in the footing area” of the dam necessitated the letter from Slade advising Wrona of additional costs to be incurred.  The authority had already been advised that additional concrete was needed.
In a motion by Athens-Clarke deputy manager Bob Snipes, steps will be taken to establish an alternate change order to offer to SSI.  Using a procedure he spelled out to determine what the authority would consider a more reasonable cost, Snipes proposed the next step if SSI rejects the offer.
A work directive would then be issued, with the involvement of attorney Kirby Atkinson of Boyce, Economou & Atkinson, advising SSI to proceed with the project at the offered unit rate with the company having the option under the contract to pursue claims for additional compensation in Superior Court or through arbitration or mediation.
As the meeting concluded, Barrow County Commission Chairman Eddie Elder, who serves as authority vice chairman, stressed what he called the main point: that the project not be prolonged and that it not put the overall project over budget.
Snipes, whose input served to focus the group, according to Dawson, said the contingencies which had been included in the budget planning for the project showed great vision of those involved early-on in the project.
“This is a large, complex project and there is much to deal with,” Snipes said.
Overall it’s been pleasant, said Dawson, who reminded the authority that preparation to make a transition in leadership should begin soon.  He goes out of office Dec.31.