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Floyd County OKs asbestos removal contract bid as part of courthouse project

By Bob Steenson,

Floyd County supervisors approved spending more than $100,000 to remove asbestos-containing materials from various parts of the county courthouse, at their meeting Tuesday.

The county intends to pay for the expense with federal American Rescue Plan money, intended to help local governments recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, invest in infrastructure and to invest in healthy initiatives.

Although the asbestos has been part of the courthouse since the facility was built in 1941, it hasn’t posed a danger because it was covered or used in a way that left it undisturbed so asbestos fibers weren’t released into the air.

Now, with work being planned on various floors, pipes, windows and walls throughout the courthouse as part of the law enforcement center (LEC) and courthouse update project, those asbestos-containing materials need to be removed by a certified asbestos removal contractor before work can be done in those areas.

The courthouse project will replace windows, install a new heating and air conditioning system shared with the LEC, install fire-suppression sprinklers and do some other remodeling.

Five asbestos removal bids were received by the deadline Tuesday, ranging from the winning low bid of $118,800 by Advanced Environmental Testing & Abatement Inc., of Waterloo, to the high bid of $228,000 by a Cedar Rapids company.

County Auditor Gloria Carr said the winning bidder has done asbestos abatement work in the courthouse on previous projects.

The Board of Supervisors has also asked bidders to provide a cost per square foot if additional work is required on floors and a cost per linear foot if additional work is required removing asbestos-containing materials on pipes.

Advanced Environmental Testing and Abatement was not the lowest bidder for those additional costs, and it is possible that if significant additional work is found that another bidder would have had a lower total cost.

Supervisor Roy Schwickerath noted that whether the county ends up paying more than it could have will depend on how accurately they listed the required work.

Related to the law enforcement center and courthouse project, supervisors continue to grow frustrated that the new Sheriff’s Office and county jail cannot be moved into.

One of the major hold-ups involves Sweeper Metal Fabricators Corp. of Drumright, Oklahoma, which received the bid for detention equipment and security electronics.

Just a few small items remain in the list of things Sweeper was responsible for, but they are things that must be finished before the facility can be used as a jail.

Supervisor Linda Tjaden said she was working with Sid Samuels, owner of The Samuels Group, the county’s construction manager for the project, to see what action can be taken against Sweeper.

“They are not responsive. They’re non-responsive, so at this point we need to see what we can do,” Tjaden said.

Schwickerath said, “Somebody asked me yesterday how we’re doing on the project, and the comment I made was, ‘Everything has to work. One lock not working, we can’t utilize it.’ That doesn’t mean just one is not working, but just one would stop us.”

Tjaden said, “If you can’t secure the facility we cannot move inmates in, and it’s so frustrating.”

Also at the regular meeting held Tuesday afternoon, the board:

• Awarded a contract to former County Attorney Dusten Rolando to help put together the county’s engineering department and secondary roads budget for fiscal year 2022-23. The county is currently looking for a new county engineer after Rolando resigned the joint position he held with Floyd and Chickasaw counties after being arrested for his second-offense OWI.

Rolando recently pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated, second offense, in Chickasaw County District Court, and was sentenced on Oct. 27 to 30 days in jail, with 23 days suspended and the remaining seven days to be served with credit possible for time spent in the state second offender diversion program. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $1,875 plus 15% surcharge ($2,156.25 total); placed on informal probation for a year; and ordered to lose his driver’s license for one year.

Rolando had offered to help the county put together its next fiscal year budget because it was something he had 20 years experience and expertise doing. He will be paid $100 an hour for what he estimated to be about 40 hours of work required.

The county had advertised the position of temporary county engineer for budget work, and Rolando was the only applicant.

• Appointed Angelica Bruger to a position on the Floyd County Veterans Commission to a term ending June 30, 2024, on the recommendation of the commission.

• Again discussed with county IT Director Bernie Solomon options for the county to add a higher-speed fiber optic service from Omni-Tel as the county’s primary broadband provider, and to use the existing slower service as a backup, at a cost of $4,200 or $6,000 per year additional, depending on the speed purchased. The board took no action on the topic.

• Abated $5,162 in property taxes owed on additional right-of way that the state of Iowa had acquired as part of the Avenue of the Saints interchange project near Floyd.

• Held public hearings and passed resolutions changing zoning from agricultural to residential and subdividing 0.96 acres of land owned by Darin and Jeanne Dietz northwest of Nashua so an existing residence on the property can be divided off and sold.

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