Commission approves architect preliminaries

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By Blenda Copeland

The Russell County Commission has approved local architect firm Hecht-Burdeshaw to do preliminary work on a project at 500 14th St. at a building referred to as the old P.O.

Commissioner Gentry Lee noted the bid to do the renovation work would have to be approved later. During discussion Jan. 10, Commissioner Ronnie Reed was the only one to express disagreement.

“I don’t think this project is going to work,” he said. He said he’d rather see the county make up an estimated $400,000 they spent already on the building in a different way; Lee pointed out that if the building’s upstairs portion turns into a venue place that can be rented to the public, the county will make up some of that money.

During a brief update at the commission’s work session Jan. 8, architect Scott Holmes, who works for Hecht-Burdeshaw, told commissioners that preliminary glances show him the building’s upstairs needs HV/AC and electrical renovations and handicapped accessibility/toilets are an issue. He said the roof appears okay.

As for the percentage of the project that the architect might charge, per state law, it could come in less than or perhaps potentially a maximum of around $600,000, Holmes estimated.

In response to Reed’s and Commissioner Cattie Epps’ question of where the money was going to come from, County Administrator LeAnn Horne said there is money available from when the commission re-funded (or in other words, re-financed) a bond issue last year.

“There are funds budgeted for capital projects,” she told the commission.