Blair Construction Gets Contract For School Renovation

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, October 21, 2010

BUCKINGHAM – During its meeting on October 13, the Buckingham County School Board, in a unanimous vote, awarded the contract for the school renovation project to Blair Construction.

“I didn't know they existed,” shared Superintendent Blair as he offered his recommendation that Blair Construction be awarded the contract to renovate the two schools on Route 20 for Dillwyn Lower and Upper Elementary schools

Eleven qualifying bids were received. With the bids projected on the wall, Blair said the bids ranged from $17,332,000 to $20,647,908. It was stressed later in the meeting that the bids represent construction cost only.

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“This is really a celebration tonight. This is exciting,” said Blair. “But I will tell you, this is like celebrating during halftime at a football game. We've got another half to go.”

Expressing his appreciation to Chip Davis, facilities director, and VMDO architects Bob Moje and Kelly Callahan, Blair said they worked to ensure a positive bid process.

Blair offered, “We went through several rounds of painful value engineering and things changed over time. Our targets even from June to September changed because we wanted to make sure that we provided enough incentive for the construction companies to give us an advantageous bid-and they did.”

The Superintendent shared, “We did everything that we could to ensure that we remain good stewards of public funds.”

Moje stated, “It's been an arduous process to get to this point.” Nothing that the board of supervisors was clear about the budget from the start, Moje said, “So we did value engineering before we bid it. We have looked at everything very carefully.” He thanked Davis and Callahan for their hard work.

Moje introduced Ken BeCraft, vice president of Blair Construction, noting that they had a meeting scheduled on Friday to get everything “ironed out.”

BeCraft told the board, “We are very pleased to be part of the second half.”

He shared that Blair Construction has been in business since 1911. “So we've been around,” said BeCraft.

BeCraft said the company is based in Pittsylvania County. “We've done a lot of school work,” he shared, noting that in the past they had bid on jobs in Buckingham. “We are very exciting to be here and we are ready to start.”

At that point, the school board made it official and formally awarded the contract to Blair Construction.

Additionally, the board authorized the superintendent to negotiate and sign the contract, not to exceed the bid price, after meeting with VMDO and Blair Construction.

Subsequently, both motions drew the board's unanimous support. A round of applause by the audience and the board sealed the votes.

Before moving on with its agenda, the board approved Atlantic Geo Tech as the third party inspector for special inspections for the renovation project.

Davis explained that Atlantic Geo Tech was the low bidder and has previously worked with school projects in the county.

Financing in Place

Before beginning his superintendent's report at Wednesday's meeting, Blair welcomed Monroe Snoddy, chair of the board of supervisors, and thanked him and his fellow supervisors for their support during “the financial glitches with the renovations.”

Noting that work is about to begin on the renovation projects for the two schools on Route 20, Blair offered, “It's an exciting time.”

At that point, he called on Kyle Laux, of Davenport & Company, to update the school board on financial aspects of the project.

Laux stated, “We have some pretty good news.” He advised that since their meeting last month with the school board, they had received bids for the interim financing.

The financial advisor said they were recommending a fixed rate option that would carry the school board for a year-plus.

Noting that the board of supervisors took action on the interim financing at its meeting on Tuesday night, Laux said the interim financing would be in place in a couple of weeks.

He explained the interim financing utilizes Build American Bonds, a stimulus-related program, with a fixed rate that is less than one percent.

Addressing the long-term financing, Laux said the governor's office sent out a memo earlier in the day with detailed information on the application process for Qualified School Construction Bonds. Laux reminded that the program could potentially allow the county to borrow at zero percent.

Noting the application would be due in about a month, Laux offered, “We feel pretty good that you would be eligible for a fairly sizeable portion of that.” He added that the permanent financing from that program would probably take place in early 2011.

“On both the interim financing front and the permanent financing front, things are progressing as we hoped they would,” said Laux. “And you are set up to be able to start on your project.”

Responding to the report, Blair offered, “Less than one percent…This is amazing.” He added, “I think you have done an incredible job.”