Meeker declares emergency; asks for proposal to get well working

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MEEKER — After determining the existence of a public health and welfare emergency, Meeker’s Board of Trustees gave the go-ahead Dec. 10 to bypass the bid process and request a work proposal in order to move forward on the town’s water pump installation project.
“We’ve already done a bid process, twice,” said Regas Halandras, board member. “So if this proposal comes in, it’s a bid and it solves our problems right there. We just need to finish the project.”
The board requested a proposal from Water Pump Supply and Service of Meeker.
Time is critical, said Jerry Viscardi, town attorney, who advised the board of its options after talking with Russell Overton, public works superintendent.
“If you find it is a health, safety and welfare issue, and there could be possible contamination of the well because of high water (next spring), and there’s the potential for cave-in because of high water when the town’s (employees) are working on installation of the pipeline …,” Viscardi said. “Because of those factors existing, it gets you to where you can say we will not go to bid for a third time, and then we will go forward with a request for proposal from Water Pump and Supply Service.”
Without declaring the public health and safety issue, the project would have had to go through the normal bidding process.
“And you may get no bids again,” he said. “These things are usually done at a staff level, but given Sharon’s recusal, you have to decide if there is an emergency warranted. And, if there is, then we don’t go to a third bid request.”
At the same time, Viscardi said, “Working for the public, we all have the obligation to make sure this is done as clean and as transparent as possible.”
Town Administrator Sharon Day excused herself from the discussion because of a conflict of interest.
“That’s my husband and son’s business,” Day said of Water Pump Supply and Service. “So I definitely have a conflict.”
The town has spent between $120,000 and $125,000 on water well No. 6, Viscardi said, including about $75,000 to have the well drilled.
“We could be wasting a lot of money if we don’t proceed rather prudently to get this well operational,” Trustee Chuck Mills said. “Look at the money we would have wasted for a $75,000 hole in the ground. We don’t have a lot of room (at the well site) to just go punching holes in the ground.
“I think the money part, darn sure, falls into the category of welfare,” Mills said. “And if there is contamination and we wait too long, there’s public safety and health. I think it’s a no-brainer.”
Trustee Bob Omer said it was time for the project to move forward.
“If we declare an emergency situation, we can act and at least get to the next step,” Omer said. “We don’t know if they will respond with a favorable or acceptable proposal, but we won’t know until we take that step. I would rely on the judgment of our public works. We have a lot of money already invested in well No. 6, which could be compromised. If we had to abandon that site, we’re walking away from a $125,000 financial investment. But in terms of possibly compromising the integrity of the site from a health and water safety point of view, it sounds to me like we’re there.”
Because of the urgency to have the work done, board members stipulated the proposal from Water Pump Supply and Service must be submitted by today.
“The parameters would be they come back with their proposal on Dec. 18,” Viscardi said. “Then Russell and Mandi (Etheridge, mayor) get together to determine if this is a reasonable bid.”
Board members authorized Etheridge to sign a contract, if the proposal is acceptable, in order to begin the project as soon as possible.