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Work on FCHD property to begin on Thursday

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Bids awarded for demolition, renovation work

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Work on the property housing the future quarters of the Fayette County Health Department is scheduled to begin this week, and the FCHD staff could be in its new home by the beginning of next year.
FCHD Administrator Rhonda Andrews presented the Fayette County Board on Tuesday night with the results of two bid openings for the rehabilitation of the property in the 400 block of West Edwards Street in Vandalia that formerly housed Leo Brown Lumber.
The Fayette County Board of Health purchased the 1,500-square-foot building last year after the Illinois Attorney General’s Office told Andrews that its current home, at 509 W. Edwards St. in Vandalia, is no longer suitable for use as a public health department.
The board of health chose to look at a new home because  the renovation of the department’s current home at 509 W. Edwards St. in Vandalia “would cost us I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Andrews told the county board last month.
She told county board members on Tuesday that the board of health received six bids for the demolition of three buildings on the property, and that the low bid of $12,800 from Grubaugh Contracting was accepted.
She said the demolition work is scheduled to get under way on Thursday, and that Dennis Grubaugh expects to complete his work within 10 days.
She also reported that eight contractors submitted bids for the renovation of the former lumber and hardware business, and that the low bid of Johannes Construction, $1.26 million, was accepted by the board of health.
The spread between the lowest and highest bids, she said, was $229,000.
Michael Schneider of Quadrant Design, the architectural firm hired for the project, told the county board last month that the work on the building will include brick and stucco on the front exterior, as well as the installation of some windows.
The roof will be replaced, “and it will have new mechanical, plumbing and electrical,” he said. Upon completion, the FCHD will have 63 parking spaces.
Andrews told county board members that the bids for the project included six alternate projects, including underground stormwater piping at the south side of the building, perforated drain tile and expanded concrete walk replacement, a generator that could handle the entire building, a security alarm and the painting of the roof on an outbuilding.
She said that the contractor will begin work as soon as the contract is approved, likely by the end of August. Right now, she said, the projected completion date is Jan. 1, 2011.
Also at Tuesday’s county board meeting, Fayette County Circuit Clerk Mary Sue Ruot reported that fines for traffic offenses would be increasing on Sept. 15.
Ruot said the fine for a seat belt ticket will be increasing from $55 to $60, $75 fines will increase to $120, $95 fines will increase to $140 and $105 fines will increase to $160.
These are tickets for which court appearances are not required, and fines are paid over the counter at the clerk’s office, she said.
Also at the meeting:
The board approved the appointment of Leland Schaal to the Fayette County Hospital District Board of Trustees.
After a lengthy discussion, the board approved continuing to provide dental and vision coverage for county employees. The increases for the coverage total $1,700.
The discussion was initiated by board member Wade Wilhour, who said he believed that these benefits should be among the cuts that the county board considers as it looks at ways the county trims its spending.
The county, Wilhour said, needs to look at “what things we are going to do without.”
He asked whether county board members would rather cut such benefits as these or go to department heads and tell them to lay off employees.
“I believe that this something that is a nice privilege, nice to have,” Wilhour said. “But it’s an option that (employees) can go out and purchase at a reasonable cost to them.”
Dean Bernhardt, chairman of the insurance and personnel committee, which recommended approving the increases, said the committee discussed several options.
“Right now, we can’t (drop the benefits) because we have a union contract,” he said, explaining that the county is obligated to provide the same benefits for both union and non-union employees.
“At this time, we just felt this was the right way to go, with a reasonable increase,” Bernhardt said.
Board Chairman Steve Knebel said, “I don’t really disagree with what you’re saying, but we’ve got a union contract. I agree – it’s something we can look at (in the future).
“It would be a very minimal price to pay to keep your job,” Knebel said.
Board member Glen “Whitey” Daniels made it clear that he did disagree with Wilhour.
“I want no part of that (cutting benefits),” Daniels said. “You just can’t cut benefits.”
Board member John Daniels Jr. said he believes that in the future, as it works on contracts with the three unions that represent county employees, the county could negotiate some cost-sharing measures.