Commission irked about justice center

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County commissioners expressed frustration Monday with the general contractor for the new justice center after receiving what they considered unwarranted change order requests.

Trisha Fruendt of SMH Consultants presented three change order requests during her weekly project update, but commissioners became increasingly annoyed that a representative of KBS Constructors — the general contractor — was not present to explain the requests.

“He ought to be in here explaining this,” Commissioner Pat Weixelman said of Loren Dekat, project manager for KBS. “You’re just a go-between. I feel sorry for you.”

SMH Consultants is the Manhattan firm hired by the county to inspect the justice center construction and to act as the county’s “eyes and ears” for the project.

“Loren should be here every time there’s a change order,” said Commission Chairman Gary Yenzer.

At issue were several proposed change orders commissioners felt were tied to a potential project delay due to the dismissal by KBS of the masonry subcontractor several weeks ago for missing critical deadlines.

Fruendt said replacement of the subcontractor is in the hands of the surety company, which hopes to have new masons hired later this month.

“We’d like to have that mason on board by the 18th,” Fruendt said, noting that bids from other masons on the original bid list were due January 11. “It’s in the surety’s hands, not KBS’,” she said.

But commissioners said the county is not responsible for additional labor cost for producing a mockup wall with “coined” stone or for seven extra days requested by KBS.

“I’m not going to start seeing a bunch of this crap––and that’s what it is,” Weixelman said. “This masonry thing, they’re going to try to get as much as they can out of it––extra days for something that was out of our control. Nope, I’m not buying it.”

“I agree with Pat,” Commissioner Stan Hartwich said. “It’s like getting new tires and saying it’s going to take more time to put on whitewalls. I feel like KBS is trying to buy another seven days for this change of masons.”

Commissioners approved the cost of the “coined stone,” but not the request for an additional $750 in labor cost.

The commission also balked at a requests for $49,000 for extra load support under areas for condensed storage units and an additional 14 days to complete an IT data room not in the original contract documents.

Commissioners said the support issue was settled several months ago at a relatively minimal cost. Upon reviewing meeting minutes of September, County clerk Nancy McCarter confirmed that architect Dan Rowe said the support issue was an “easy fix” and would not require a change order.

“It ain’t gonna happen,” Weixelman and Yenzer said in unison of the change order request for $49,000. As to the change order request for the IT data room, Weixelman said, “This is the first time I’ve seen this and I’m not going to have it rammed down my throat at a minute’s notice. I don’t blame you for that,” he told Fruendt, “I blame our contractor over there.”

“I’ll plead my case again with him (Dekat),” Fruendt said as she left the meeting. “I’ll try to get him over here.”

“Tell him Happy New Year,” Weixelman said.

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