Contractor selected for Junior High project

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home School Board agreed Thursday evening, May 17, to enter negotiations with Gerding Builders of Corvallis to serve as contract manager and general contractor for the Sweet Home Junior High School renovation project beginning this summer.

Present and voting to contract with Gerding were Jim Gourley, Ben Emmert, Jason Van Eck, Chanz Keeney, Jason Redick, Chairman Mike Reynolds, Angela Clegg and Debra Brown. Carol Babcock was absent.

Supt. Tom Yahraes, Maintenance Supervisor Josh Darwood and Business Manager Kevin Strong presented their recommendation for Gerding during the board’s regular meeting on May 14. The board met in a special session Thursday evening following the district’s Budget Committee and following a “protest” period regarding the contractor.

Yahraes said the district issued a request for proposals on April 11, and six contractors attended a mandatory meeting on April 18 to learn more about the project.

Four of the contractors submitted proposals, Yahraes said. The district interviewed all four contractors, checked references and visited projects completed by each.

“All the contractors had strong points,” Yahraes said. Gerding scored the highest and scored highly in all areas rated by the district team.

“All four contractors were very good contractors,” Darwood said. “It wasn’t an easy decision.”

The district evaluated the contractors based on firm experience, construction manager-general contractor experience, key personnel experience, overall project understanding, scheduling approach, cost control and references.

Gerding is headquartered in Corvallis, Strong said, and it has more than 50 years of construction experience and strong relationships with subcontractors throughout the Mid-Willamette Valley.

Gerding completed more than $80 million in construction projects in 2017, Strong said, and it has considerable experience building for K-12 education.

Recent projects in Linn County include the South Albany High School cafeteria, the downtown Albany police and fire stations, Best Western Boulder Falls Inn and Restaurant in Lebanon, the Albany Carousel and the grant-funded Sweet Home High School auditorium seismic upgrade project last summer.

Gerding is building a new middle school and upgrading an elementary school in Jefferson and building a new elementary school in Albany, Strong said.

“I really enjoyed working with them,” Darwood said. Gerding was helpful making decisions to cut costs and adjust the seismic upgrade project without sacrificing quality, and the company came up with different ways to help save money.

That’s one of the key reasons to use the contract manager, general contractor form of contracting as opposed to a standard bidding procedure. It allows the contractor to be involved in the design phase, maintain flexibility and make adjustments during construction.

Voters last year passed a $4 million bond levy to match $4 million in funding from the state government to renovate Sweet Home Junior High. The district initially slated about $7 million to go toward the junior high and $1 million toward various safety and security improvements in the elementary schools as well as hot water, window replacement, climate control upgrades and other infrastructure improvements throughout the district.

The district has expended approximately $92,000 for architectural services at the junior high. With $38,600 in interest and bond proceeds, the district has $8.04 million remaining in its bond funds.

As part of its bond projects and a grant-funded seismic upgrade, the district will go to work on improvements at Hawthorne School when the school year ends next month.