Bloomington contractor awarded contract for jail mechanical upgrades

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The Bartholomew County commissioners have signed a contract with Harrell-Fish Inc., Bloomington, to complete mechanical upgrades in the older section of the county jail.

In 2017, Commissioner Chairman Carl Lienhoop warned “it’s going to be a big project of probably from $400,000 to $600,000.”

One year later, a five-year Capital Maintenance and Improvement Plan set the price tag for the necessary heating, cooling, ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing at about $1 million.

In 2021, a combination of factors including COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions raised the estimate to between $1.4 million to $1.6 million.

The contract with the Bloomington company is for just under $2 million, which will come from COVID-19 relief funds from the American Rescue Plan, county auditor Pia O’Connor said.

“If we weren’t allow to use ARP funds to do this, quite honestly we would probably be kicking the can down the road for another year or two or three,” she said.

“And what is it going to cost in another three years?” commissioner Tony London asked.

While the base bid submitted by Harrell-Fish totaled $1,865,568, the commissioners accepted recommendations from county maintenance director Rick Trimpe by approving four optional services. They are replacing the boilers for $73,900 more; hooking up a temporary boiler for an additional $12,500; providing duct-work cleaning for $17,500 and installing new controls for $12,500.

Once these options are added to the base bid, the total rises to $1,981,968, the commissioners stated. The county received a total of $16.2 million in ARP funds from the federal government.

The only other proposal came from Dunlap and Co. of Columbus. Last month, the local firm provided a base bid of $2,300,000 almost 19% higher than the base proposal from Harrell-Fish.

Last September,the commissioners approved a $155,000 professional services agreement with the architectural and engineering company DLZ Indiana to design the extensive upgrades. Since then, the Indianapolis-based company has been working extensively with Bartholomew County Maintenance Supervisor Rick Trimpe.

Now that the contract is signed, DLZ personnel will sit down with both Trimpe and jail maintenance supervisor Rick Thompson for a pre-construction meeting that will include a tentative timetable.

Harrell-Fish will receive 270 calendar days for substantial completion of the project, with another 30 days for full completion, the contract states.

But the contractor has no control over the time it takes to secure necessary materials, DLZ mechanical engineer Josh Apling said. Like many other industries, supply chain interruptions in the construction sector continues to present major obstacles, he said.