By MIKE MCCOY
Statesman Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- The Stoddard County Commission gave the highest rating to Smith and Company Engineers of the five statements of qualifications received from engineering firms interested in designing a new bridge on County Road 784. The bridge is located in LaValle Township in the extreme southeast part of the county. The second highest rating went to
Schultz Surveying and Engineering of Poplar Bluff. Smith and Company is also a Poplar Bluff company and has recently designed most of the bridges replaced by the county.
The next phase in retaining an engineering firm for the project will be negotiation of the cost of engineering fees. The county has the power to move to the second highest rated company if they were unsatisfied with the price offered by the top rated firm.
County Clerk Joe Watson said the county had requested statements of qualifications through the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). MoDOT publishes the request on the website. Five companies submitted the necessary paperwork. The other three were Great River Associates based in Springfield, Weis Design Group in Ellisville, Mo., and Horner Shifrin, Inc. based in St. Louis but with an office in Poplar Buff.
Presiding Commission-er Greg Mathis said he had ranked the companies based on three categories as required by state guidelines. He said he gave all five companies top ratings for experience and technical competence and for "capacity and capability."
"I think any one of the companies is qualified and able to do the project," said Mathis.
Mathis said the difference in his ratings was factoring in past record and performance. He said he weighted that score with how well he felt the company would provide close supervision of the project and have a person available at all times to deal with any problems that might arise.
Commissioners Danny Talkington and Carol Jarrell also rated Smith and Company the highest. Talkington and Mathis gave Schultz the second highest rating, while Jarrell gave the second rating to Horner Shifrin.
The county will now contact Smith and Company to negotiate their fees. If that is unsuccessful, then Schultz will be contacted.
The county will replace the bridge on County Road 784 with a 60-foot bridge. A preliminary estimate put the cost of the bridge at $200,000. Money to replace the bridge will come from Off-System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (BRO) funds. The county has around $1.5 million in BRO funds.
Castor Township board members Henry Kestner and Don Williams attended the meeting at the request of Mathis. He wanted an update on the County Road 410 bridge that was washed away in the flood in 2011.
Kestner said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had projected the cost of replacing the bridge at $136,428. He said FEMA would pay 75 percent of the cost of the project, even if it was higher than estimated. He said township officials had already expended $2,070 to remove the old bridge which fell into the drainage ditch.
Mathis asked Kestner what length the bridge would be. Kestner said the old bridge was 32 to 36 feet in length, but the new one was estimated to be 48 feet. He said it could be up to 60 feet because of erosion at the location. He said the bridge was located in a bend that was getting wider due to water.
Kestner said the FEMA money required a 35 percent local match, and also required the township to pay $67,000 up front for engineering fees. Those fees would be reimbursed to the township.
"We don't have the up front money," Kestner told the commission.
The project had been held up awaiting funding from a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The application was made by the Bootheel Regional Planning and Economic Development Commis-sion, and the bridge was approved. It did not receive funding, though, in the first round that was published. The county has been waiting to see if a second round of funding would be announced.
Mathis said he would contact an engineering firm and see if they could draw up an estimate of the cost to build a new bridge. The county has been reluctant to use BRO funds because it would lose the FEMA money. BRO funds cannot be used to match FEMA money. The other choice would be to proceed with the project using county BRO funds.
"I'm tired of waiting and dragging our feet," said Mathis. "We as a commission need to make a decision."
Glenda Bates, a County Archives board member, said employee Sandra Borders would continue to be out due to health issues. She said she would continue to work part time in the archives and would be helped by other board members, Anita Peters, Gary Kitchen and Frances Moore. She said they were proceeding with the idea that Borders would return to work in the future. She also told
the commission that Building Supervisor William Dowdy had been very helpful in moving items that she couldn't do herself.
Watson presented the commission with more numbers on the 2013 budget.
Mathis said the county was having to take a hard look at the budget because expenses were $511,000 more than expected revenues. He said the commission was working on the budget and planned to finalize the budget next Tuesday. A budget hearing is planned for 10 a.m. Jan. 22, the same day as the regular commission meeting. It is being held on Tuesday because county offices will be closed Jan. 21 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.