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Harris: ‘When will it be finished, Wayne?’

By Judith Pannebaker

A battle weary Wayne Gondeck, AIA, of San Antonio’s DRG Architects, stopped by Bandera County Commissioners Court on Thursday, Nov. 12, to give his monthly assessment of continued progress on the already officially “substantially completed” jail and justice center.

Last month, he brought the court a punch list of items remaining to be completed on the project - and $300,000 in retainage fees to ensure the project’s satisfactory conclusion.

“Contractors have been working on substantial completion of the punch list on the major items remaining,” Gondeck said. He indicated that the 12 to 15 items that had still not been taken care of would be completed within the next week or 10 days.

Recommending that the court pay out $233,700 of the retainage funds for the work completed so far, Gondeck noted, “The decrease in retainage is 50 percent above the value of the work.” Although Gondeck’s recommendation didn’t sit well with Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris, neither County Judge Richard Evans nor the rest of the commissioners expressed reservations about complying with Gondeck’s recommendation.

The payment would reduce the retainage balance to a little less than $69,500.

According to Harris, the punch list, first enumerated on Thursday, Oct. 8, had contained approximately 150 items, which, he indicated, would be completed “within two weeks.” According to Harris, 34 still hadn’t been completed.

“It’s now Nov. 12. Have all the items been done?” he asked Gondeck.

According to Gondeck, recent rains precluded completion of all items on the “still to do” check list, such as site work for the Bandera County Road and Bridge facility, which is located behind the jail and justice center on Highway 173 North.

Gondeck also indicated that mechanical engineers, not the county, were responsible for some of the still to be rectified slip-ups. As one example, he cited incorrectly installed showerheads not in compliance with specifications of the Americans with Disability Act.

“This would come under the mechanical engineer contractor,” Gondeck said. “The shower heads were installed on the wrong side, but new ones have been ordered.” However, Gondeck was unclear why the shower area was designed incorrectly in the first place.

He also asserted, “Additional work was not the part of the punch list,” adding, “It was not Yates’ responsibility to get that work done within the timeframe.”

However, Harris pointed out that Yates had been serving as contractor on the project.

To Harris’ question, “When will the center be done?” Gondeck finally replied, “I can’t give you a specific date.”

Another sticking point concerns the paucity of furniture for offices, particularly those involving the 216th Judicial District.

“The manufacturer promised a delivery date of Nov. 12, but now won’t commit to that date,” Gondeck explained. “He wants to ship the order at one time and there’s a problem with fabrication of panels. (The furniture) may be shipped within 10 days or two weeks.”

An incredulous Bandera County District Clerk Tammy Kneuper asked, “Do you mean it’s going to be two or three weeks before we get furniture?”

“Yes,” Gondeck answered.

“Merry Christmas, Tammy,” quipped a commissioner.

Returning to the question at hand - releasing the requested retainage - Harris said, “I have a problem spending $233,000 and keeping only $69,000. I’d like to keep a bigger carrot at the end of the stick.”

Gondeck advocated not making the amount punitive as an incentive to get the contractor going. “You don’t want to make it punitive for things that are not within their control,” he said. “It’s a balancing act to protect the county and to be fair to the contractor.”

He said the contractor did not have complete control of the schedule. “Just enough rain fell to delay things out there,” Gondeck said. He also commended Yates Construction for maintaining a manager on site, saying, “It’s good they’re not working from San Antonio.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Bruce Eliker’s motion to pay the retainage fee of $233,698.99 was seconded by Precinct 3 Commissioner Richard Keese. The motion was approved 3-1 with Harris voting against it.

Approximately $70,000 is left to see the project through to completion. “Don’t you think if you wanted those 34 items done now, holding $230,000 is better than $70,000?” Harris asked rhetorically.