By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
During a progress update on the mortar project on the old high school portion of the Justice Center, county officials learned of additional repairs that would be needed on the facility. The costs, however, will be covered by contingency funds that were worked into the project.
Kim Chamberlin, architect with Upland Design, told the building and grounds committee the mortar project was going well and that the old mortar had been cut out and crews were now placing new mortar around the bricks of the building.
"Everything's going well with that and, weather permitting, they should be done in about three to four weeks," Chamberlin said. "Cookeville Sheet Metal should start installing the new parapet within the next couple of weeks."
Chamberlin said there was one issue that came up while workers were cutting out mortar and discovered five lintels around windows of the building were in "very bad shape" and were "rusting out" and would have to be replaced.
"There is about $15,000 in the contingency fund and at a cost of around $2,331 per window, we will be within that fund," Chamberlin said. "It comes to $11,650, which will be covered by the contingency funds, but I just wanted to make you aware of it so I could get your approval."
"When the windows were replaced, shouldn't this have been seen?" Sonya Rimmer, 8th District commissioner and building and grounds committee chairman asked.
"Probably, they should have, but they were overlooked," Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin said the lintels that needed to be replaced were four on the upper level and one on the lower level of the old high school portion of the Justice Center near the Clerk and Master's offices.
"I still have a problem with this. Sparkman (and Associates, architects) was paid to look at this (building) and I still think we need to go back to somebody on this. This stuff was overlooked. You'd think that he might say, 'Hey, I'll pitch in a little bit and help with this.' The windows was overlooked, the mortar, the lintels. There comes a time when something needs to be done," said 7th District Commissioner Mike Harvel said.
Sparkman and Associates of Knoxville was hired by Upland to assist in the design and restoration of the old high school portion of the Justice Center renovation project.
"I agree with Mike. That area by Sue's office (clerk and master's office) is where a lot of the problems are. Sparkman came back and looked at it. I'm worried about the windows in the whole building," said 9th District Commissioner Carmin Lynch.
"Well, the problem here, folks, is that Upland hired Sparkman (and Associates). The only way we could get anything would be that we would have to sue Upland and they in turn would have to sue Sparkman," said 1st District Commissioner Harry Sabine.
"Sparkman was hired upon the recommendation of the former county mayor and Steve Hewlett," Chamberlin said.
"Well, we have no choice. These have to be fixed or we're just asking for more problems down the road," said David Hassler, 3rd District commissioner.
"Everybody makes mistakes and I just hope that we have learned from this," Larry Allen, 6th District commissioner said.
Allen then made a motion to have the lintels replaced and the motion was supported by Hassler.
Chamberlin explained the lintels were a structural item for support and did not have anything to do with the leaking that was occurring from the windows.
Several commissioners expressed their disappointment in the situation and said they felt the architects should cover part of the costs.
"This is costing us extra in damage that wouldn't if it was seen in the beginning," Lynch said.
"Yeah, if this was known or caught, we may not have done thie project," Harvel said. "This was part of it that should have been seen."
"The county hired a building inspector or engineer to look after us and it also should have been seen by him," Sabine said.
Sabine was referring to Eric Newman, who was hired by the county as a project supervisor over the Phoenix School, Art Circle Library and Justice Center construction projects.
"We can point to a lot, but we relied on professional judgement on how to do the repairs and both were lacking. Period. If it was our guy, or supervisor, is not the issue. We relied on them and haven't gotten the services we paid for ... What do we pay these fees for? We didn't get what we paid for," Lynch said.
"I agree, but this has to be done," Sabine said.
The committee then voted and unanimously approved the repairs to the five lintels at a cost of $11,650 to come out of the contingency funds of the project.