New county garage prepares for occupancy

The Bartholomew County Commissioners approved the final list of change orders for the Bartholomew County Highway Garage Monday, a nearly $8 million project east of Petersville.

Although that final list contained several changes, total costs will only add another $21,127 to the total cost, according to figures provided by project supervisor David Doup of Taylor Bros. Construction.

“I thought this day would never come,” said commissioner’s Chairman Larry Kleinhenz, who expressed optimism on Monday that a final certificate of occupancy will be issued following an inspection this week.

That same optimism was expressed last week by Chief Code Enforcement Officer Brian Thompson, who said his staff has already determined it’s safe to move the department employees into the main building. Only a few minor improvements had to be completed for the certificate to be issued, Thompson said.

On Nov. 15, county highway engineer Danny Hollander said most supplies and materials “probably took twice as long getting here as they typically do.”

His sentiments were echoed by Doup, whose company supervised nine prime contractors and six subcontractors hired to work on the new garage.

“We’ve had so many challenges with the delivery systems that COVID-19 has placed on us,” said Doup, who commended both subcontractors and highway employees for making extra efforts to complete the project.

Most of the so-called “clean up” change orders individually cost less than $2,500, according to figures outlined Monday by Doup to the county commissioners. Two of the approved changes actually provides savings for taxpayers when compared to original estimates.

The approved changes call for a number of minor alterations such as adding door seals, extra paint, caulking, window shades, louvers and upgraded electrical outlets in the building’s sign shop.

Ideally, the entire highway department would like to be in their new facility by the end of this year, Hollander said.

But since highway crews already have their hands full with several projects, the engineer said the move from the current garage near State and Gladstone streets will have to be made slowly.

Once the old garage is vacated, it will be used by the county for storage, Kleinhenz said.