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Courthouse bids come in higher than expected
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    Last year, the Grant County Board of Supervisors decided to focus the county’s capital improvement efforts on the historic Grant County Courthouse, paying for it over the course of the next couple of years with money freed up from bonds paid off on 1990s projects. Last week, the bids came in on the proposed work repair the masonry, revamp the drainage around the foundation, and limit infiltration of precipitation, and those initial bids came in above what was expected.
    Stephen Mar-Pohl from Insite Consulting Architects, the firm hired to oversee the project, was onhand for the opening of four bids on the project. The firm had talked to six different firms for the courthouse project, with two of those firms deciding ultimately not to bid.
    The lowest bid for the project was Illinois-based Bulley and Andrews, which came in with a bid of $2.3378 million for the base work. The next lowest bidder was Wisconsin based J.P. Cullen and Sons with a bid of $2.4969 million for the base project.
    Also bidding were Minnesota-based Building Restoration Corporation with a bid of $3.35 million, and Pennsylvania-based Dan LePore and Sons with a bid of nearly $4 million.
    Also in the request for bids was for a warranty extension to five years after the project, as opposed to the standard two years. Bulley’s bid stated it would cost an additional $44,000, while J.P. Cullen added $8,240 to their bid.
    When asked about any past work history with either low bidder, Mar-Pohl noted that they have talked quite a bit with both over the years, and while never having actually worked with J.P. Cullen stated they have a very strong reputation, and always worked very hard during previous bid processes.
    As for Bulley, the consultants had worked with them at the Brookfield Zoo. “If you have complicated projects, with lots of moving parts they are very good.”
    Mar-Pohl stated that his firm would review both proposals over the next two weeks to make sure they were equal in every way. Addressing the board Tuesday morning, Grant County Board Chairman Larry Wolf said that some copper roof work not originally part of the scope project, but included in the bid request, would be looked at to see if something could be reduced.
    The two bids are higher than the $2.05 million InSite estimated last year, and even higher than the $2.2 million the project would have cost if the county would have spread it out over two years. With the consulting fee, the project is now looking to be closer to $2.5 million.
    In order to begin the work this year, Wolf said the board may have to call a special meeting within the next couple of weeks to approve the project.
    “If we are going to do this, the contractors will need to be started soon,” Wolf said.