ELKO – A new fire station in Lamoille will become a reality after Elko County Commissioners accepted a bid for the facility, but only after expressing surprise at the high costs and postponing action at their May 20 meeting.
The commissioners on June 3 accepted the low bid of $1.88 million from Schell Creek Construction in action. Ormaza Construction bid almost $1.96 million, and Michael Clay Corp. bid $2.03 million.
The earlier estimated cost for the new, 6,957 square-foot station was $1.3 million.
“We didn’t expect the costs would be that high,” Elko County Manager Rob Stokes said in a June 2 phone interview, but he said the county has reviewed the bids, and they “look reasonable.”
Commissioners said they hope there will be chances to reduce the construction costs and a recent donation of $100,000 from Nevada Gold Mines will help. Sally Searle of Maggie Creek Ranch donated $10,000.
Joe de Braga, secretary and treasurer of the Lamoille Volunteer Fire Department, told commissioners the NGM donation “puts us way ahead,” and the site donated by John Robert Sustacha last year is the ideal location on Lamoille Highway for the station.
Elko County’s infrastructure fund established for fire departments will be used for the bulk of the construction costs.
The new facility will replace the current station in an old garage adjacent to the Lamoille School House. The current station only holds a fire truck and a water tender, while the volunteers have five pieces of fire-fighting equipment.
De Braga told the Elko Daily Free Press in mid-May that the other three pieces of equipment are housed at ranches and do not meet requirements that they be in a heated building. He also said then that the county will providing the department a new wildland fire truck and water tender next year, and the new vehicles and new building should reduce insurance costs.
Architect Pat Walsh of ZGA Architects and Planners Chartered wrote the county on May 28 that he recommended acceptance of the Schell Creek bid as the low bidder.
“Even though the low bid was higher than the architect/engineer estimate, we believe it is fair to assume that these bids represent the true construction costs,” he said.
Commissioners showed irritation at their May 20 meeting with the Idaho-based architect because there were not any supporting materials available at that meeting on which to base a decision.
“I apologize for what happened at the last meeting,” said Commissioner Rex Steninger, who is liaison to the fire department along with Commissioner Jon Karr. “I don’t blame you guys at all for tabling it.”
He said that since the last meeting, the firehouse plans are on the website and the donation from NGM is putting the fire department in a better position now, “so let’s try again.”
Commissioner Delmo Andreozzi said he has a better understanding of the bids now and hopes costs can be tightened later. He said the site development for the Lamoille station “is significant,” and he didn’t see that at first. Work required will include paving, a water tank, a new septic system and more.
Commissioner Cliff Eklund said earlier in the June 3 meeting that the county needs to support local businesses, and he brought up criticism at the May 20 meeting about hiring an out-of-state architect for the Lamoille project rather hiring locally.
Steninger said the Idaho architect was chosen because “the local architect had a county project, and I didn’t feel it would look good to give all the business to the niece of a sitting county commissioner.”
He was referring to Elko architect Catherine Wines, who is a niece of Chairman Demar Dahl.
The June 3 county meeting was the first since the coronavirus restrictions where all the commissioners were present, and up to 50 people could attend the meeting, rather than wait outside until their turn to talk.
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