County ready to open courthouse bids

Oct. 25—Daviess County officials are eagerly awaiting the planned bid opening for the long-anticipated courthouse renovation project. Contractors have been looking at the bid documents for nearly a month. Bids are set to be opened Friday at 2 p.m.

"We are all eagerly awaiting opening the bids and seeing how they came in. We do have some back up plans. What they look like will determine what direction we decide to go," said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Nathan Gabhart.

County officials have set a hard cap of $12 million on the project, although earlier estimates put the work at $13 million or more.

"The courthouse renovation is not a done deal. It will be determined by how the bids come in," said Gabhart.

Meanwhile, the county is carrying out some projects that would facilitate county operations if the courthouse is shut down for construction.

A new hanger at the Daviess County Airport is nearing completion. The county plans to use that area for storage while the courthouse is worked on.

The work in the Daviess County Government Center basement to act as the home for some of the courthouse offices is also progressing.

The county highway department opened bids from 17 different vendors for products the department uses. Those bids were for rock, concrete, pipes, tile, pavement and engine fluids and a number of other items.

"We opened all of our highway bids. We deal with a lot of vendors. This is an annual process," said Gabhart. "We will evaluate those. I saw no numbers that jumped off the sheet and spooked us. We will start crunching the numbers and see who offers the best deals moving forward. We currently run about $6 million a year through the highway department just for our normal operations to maintain the 800 miles of road."

Daviess County Highway Supervisor Chris Winkler will be evaluating the bids and will make a recommendation at one of the commissioner's meetings in November.

The commissioners heard a report from Cindy Barber with Discover Downtown Washington on the Quick Impact Downtown Façade program. Barber told the commissioners that the project has inspired a lot of private investment beyond the immediate façade work.

"Discover Downtown is a great organization," said Gabhart. "The key is how do we stimulate development in the private sector. All in all, I think it was a success. It was $35,000 total and at the end of the day there will be nine or 10 properties with new facades on the front."

The commissioners approved a contract for two years with the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation.

Commissioner Ron Arnold suggested and the other commissioners agreed to have him, new Daviess County EDC Executive Director Bob Grewe and Daviess Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joe Morris work as a committee to consider future changes and direction for the EDC and how it works with the county.

Winkler told the commissioners he is still working with officials toward rebuilding and reopening CR 700 E. The road was closed for mining several years ago and the county hopes to get the reclamation work to the mine completed and the road rebuilt next year.

The county is working with a different mining company on the closure of CR 200 N.

"We are working with REO mining on CR 200 N. We are meeting quarterly to make sure we can get the work done and the road put back," said Gabhart. "We expect in a month or two they will mine through there."

Winkler says he expects his crews to wrap up their paving projects for the year by the end of the month.