Contractors compete in Courthouse makeover

Friday, August 14, 2009
A man walks from the front door of the Marshall County Courthouse where officials have said they suspect rainwater has leaked through the pillars. A new roof is seen as one solution.

Two of five construction contractors, who sought to be viable candidates for renovation of Marshall County's Courthouse, were recommended Thursday to the county Buildings Committee, and its panelists accepted the advice from their architect.

A chief question used by James Kennon, the Nashville-based architect who reviewed the five contractors' applications, was: Can the contractor keep the building useable and open while the roof is off? Kennon also ranked the five contractors. They were among eight who obtained the package asking contractors to list their qualifications.

"I was pleased with the proposals and I was surprised there were so few," Kennon said.

He rated contractors on a scale of 1-100. The top two were presented as worthy of continued consideration.

Here are Kennon's rankings of the five contractors.

* The Parent Co. of Brentwood was ranked best with 98 points. Kennon noted the company is renovating the Williamson County Courthouse. Maury County's Courthouse was renovated by The Parent Co.

* D.F. Chase Inc. Construction of Nashville was ranked second with a score of 89. Recent relevant projects have been at Lipscomb University, the University of the South, Vanderbilt University and Bradley County Schools.

* Baron & Dowdle Construction of Nashville placed third with 74. Its recent projects include renovation of a building in Murfreesboro that had been headquarters for the Rutherford County Health Department.

* Rock City Construction of Franklin was ranked fourth with 64 points. Relevant projects include renovation of Hotel Halbrook in Dickson, restoration of historic Franklin Presbyterian Church and making several Nashville libraries handicap accessible.

* Romach Inc. of Franklin was ranked fifth with a score of 54. Projects similar to what is contemplated for the Courthouse here include work at Freedom Intermediate School in Franklin and Nashville State Technical Community College. Romach also provided general trade work for restoration of the Maury County Courthouse.

The depth of these companies' experience in projects like what's needed here were among the chief considerations used by Kennon.

Having reviewed his notes and comparisons for the Building Committee, Kennon turned to Commissioner Mickey King, chairman of the committee, asking if the committee wanted to evaluate the contractors' submissions.

"That's what we're relying on you for," King replied.

County Attorney Ginger Shofner confirmed that Kennon would provide a typed version of his evaluation. The evaluation was presented orally from hand-written notes.

Shofner asked Kennon if his review and rankings were conducted "with the intention of taking some of them out?" Kennon replied it was done "with the intention of finding the most qualified" contractor.

Commissioner Jimmy Wolaver asked if there was a time constraint. King replied that money for the renovation has already been borrowed.

If money from a tax-free security is held too long without being spent for the stated purpose, then federal regulations apply because a tax-free status isn't intended to facilitate arbitrage, the otherwise legitimate practice of making money on money.

Bids on the renovation of the courthouse could be obtained from The Parent Co. and D.F. Chase Inc. in about six weeks, Kennon said.

Commissioner Don Ledford said he agreed with King that Kennon was hired to deliver advice, so he moved to have the county only accept bids from construction contractors who received a rating of 85 or better.

The vote was unanimous with King, Wolaver and Commissioner Phil Willis voting with Ledford.