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School Board withholds $20,000 from contractor due to noisy AC

Posted on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm

MILFORD—Saying the new air conditioning system is too noisy at Bowling Green Elementary School, the Caroline County School Board is withholding $20,000 from the contractor.

Board members met Monday in the new cafeteria of the renovated school and found it difficult to hear each other because of the noisy cooling system. They finally had it shut down. The board voted 5-1 to make a $221,380 payment to Loughridge & Co.,, the general contractor, but in doing so, the board withheld $20,000. Board member Tinka Harris cast the dissenting vote, saying the board should withhold more than $20,000.

Randy S. Jones, chief executive officer of the architectural and engineering firm OWPR of Virginia, told the board, “They are working on the unit making that whistle.” In addition, the cooling system “has not been balanced yet,” he noted.

Loughridge, which submitted a low bid of $10,187,000 for the project in April 2012, is expanding and renovating Bowling Green Primary School, which has been renamed Bowling Green Elementary. The expansion and renovation will allow the consolidation of nearby Bowling Green Elementary School.

Jones recommends that the board reject the concrete floors in the hallway, lobby and cafeteria due to workmanship, he said. The floors don’t have a glass-like shine.

The contractor will put down a new base and polish the floors again in a few days, but if school officials reject the new work, there will be enough time to re-do the cafeteria only. The other floors will have to be re-surfaced next summer, Jones said.

The school division still owes Loughridge $1.6 million for the entire project, Jones said. The project completion date was originally scheduled for July 15, School Superintendent Greg Killough noted.

“Everything will be complete prior to school starting except the main lobby,” Jones said. “There is also concern about getting the library and art room ready. The building official must say it’s safe for the children to get to the art room.”

Nancy Carson, chairwoman of the board, expressed concern about the incompletion of the lobby. “That is the hub of the school where everybody comes in.”

The steel framework that was initially proposed for the lobby by a subcontractor was rejected by the general contractor, Jones said, adding, “It looked like a gas station.” Another subcontractor came in with a better design. However, it took six to eight weeks for the steel fabrication for the lobby.

The contract with Loughridge calls for a fine of $1,000 a day beyond the July 15 deadline. However, Loughridge has requested a 17 day extension, due in part to bad weather, and that would make Aug. 3 the new deadline.

“Our teachers and staff worked hard to work around the schedule of the contractor,” Killough said. “We’ve gone above and beyond. I want a building that is open. I don’t want just certain parts of the building to be open. It’s not fair.”

Killough noted that the cafeteria will be “beautiful” when it’s completed.