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Michigan firm to demolish old elementary school building

MORRIS – By September 30 the old elementary school building will be gone, provided the firm awarded the contract for demolition responds to some questions about their plans and some previous projects.

On Tuesday, the Morris City Council conditionally accepted a $774,000 bid from Dore and Associates of Bay City, Mich., to demolish the old elementary school property.

State statute requires the city to accept the lowest responsible bidder on a project, and the burden to show that a company is not responsible falls to the city, explained City Manager Blaine Hill.

“If you don't do that, you open yourself up to being sued by that company for the bid,” Hill said.

In the short time since the bids were opened on March 21, Hill, project engineer Chuck DeWulf and City Attorney Aaron Jordan all did research on the company that they presented to the council on Tuesday.

Hill spoke with Dore and Associates President Arthur Dore, who he said was familiar with the project. The company has been in business since 1958 and done more than 35,000 demolition projects around the country.

Wulf, project engineer with Bolton and Menk, told the council the three references he had contacted for the firm all had favorable experiences, and that the contractors had worked well with neighbors and the community.

DeWulf also requested the subcontractor list and disposal plans for the hazardous and regular materials. Representatives with Bolton and Menk will also review expectations and the timeline during a pre-construction meeting with the firm.  

Jordan, however, found some information in online news reports that raised some questions for him. According to one report Jordan cited, Dore and Associates asked for more money from a town in Michigan after additional asbestos was found in the building.

In another case Jordan cited, the company sued the University of Wisconsin after it was fired from a project over contract violations and safety problems.

“I'm not saying that this is not a responsible bidder. I'm saying these are things that you might consider looking into a little bit deeper before you make your decision,” Jordan concluded.  

Hill told the council there are requirements in the specifications that say contractors are responsible to know and understand everything that is in the building, including the asbestos and other hazardous materials. And the plan also provided blueprints and other information about the status of the building.

On Jordan's advice, the council accepted the bid on the condition that representatives from Dore and Associates answer more specific questions about their plans before officially signing a contract.

“I think [Jordan's] got a good point. We ended up with the school and I'd hate to give it to a contractor with something bad going on and be made a laughing stock,” said council member Bill Storck. “We want to make sure we've got the I's dotted and the T's crossed, no matter what.”

The next lowest bidders on the project were Rachel Contracting of St. Michael, Minn. with a bid of $869,000 and Riley Bros. Construction of Morris with a bid of $915,000.