Vrooman lighting turns on controversy

Ken Seymour Photo available for purchase

Ken Seymour

Published: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 03:50 PM.

A quarter-million dollar federal project with a tight deadline for replacing the ballfield lights at Eastpoint’s Vrooman Park has been accompanied by controversy on several fronts.

The Crawfordville firm of Anytime Electric began work Tuesday morning on the $242,000 project, after county commissioners approved a change order to the original scope of work. That vote was 3-1, with Commissioner Smokey Parrish absent and Commissioner Pinki Jackel opposed.

Jackel on Tuesday voiced strong opposition to how the planning office handled the project, which landed in the county’s lap somewhat as a surprise on July 1. When Anytime was awarded the work July 18 over the only other bidder, Alternative Electric, of Eastpoint, Jackel also voted no, urging the county to give preference to the local bidder.

“I know we were under time constraints but I think it is unfortunate, as badly as our folks and contractors in Franklin County need work, that we have to go outside the county and award this bid to another contractor,” she said July 18.

Jackel stepped up her criticism Tuesday, in concert with her no vote on the change order, which altered the work from 82 LED lights, to 86 1000-watt pulse start metal halide lights.

“These lights were readily available by a local provider and (Assistant County Planner) Mark (Curenton) still did not open it up to a local contractor,” she said. “I believe it is our responsibility to spend money locally. This commission has done everything we were supposed to and staff has boxed us in.

“The upshot is $250,000 is leaving the county that could have been spent locally,” said Jackel. “In the future I hope we do not repeat this terrible mistake. I’m not saying you have to do what I say but you have to listen to me. On decisions of this nature I think the board needs to make this decision.”

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