Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON – With the doors of its new facility closed, the Marshall County Board of Health last week approved more than $160,000 in bills from its contractor. Work on the new health department continues, even as the current contractor, the former architecht and the board become more involved in a lawsuit over who is liable.
“I’ve been doing this for 32 years and it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten into a pickle like this,” said Max Cleaver of Cleaver Construction at the Board of Health meeting Thursday. “I’m in uncharted territory. I’ve requested that [the board] repay us $160,598, that way I can take care of a lot of my subcontractors.”
Cleaver presented copies of bills so he would be able to pay subcontractors for work done on the project. With work 98 percent complete, but unable to be finished due to claims over responsibility for increased costs, Cleaver said the board would have to decide what it wanted to do about supervising the final phase of construction.
“Typically, someone would go through and review that, yes I have laid all the carpet; yes I do have all the floor tile laid; yes all the doors are hanging,” Cleaver said. “All those things are done. Once the remedial repair work has been determined, we would like to try and work with you to try and get you folks back in your building as quickly as possible. This has got to be frustrating. If I had nearly $4 million sitting on the side of the road and couldn’t get in it, I’d be upset too.”
Board member Marty Johnson motioned to accept the request and allow the construction committee to handle it further. Chairman Mike Miller said the committee would review the requests on behalf of the board and issue payments accordingly.
The issue over who is liable began after the board filed a lawsuit seeking damages against Kevin Perry, ACE Design Group, Cleaver Construction and William Steele, managing member of ACE. Perry served as the project’s architect. The suit alleges gross negligance resulted in the facility not being fully ADA (Americans with Disabilties Act) compliant.
ACE was not a part of the building’s initial work, but did purchase the assets of Perry’s previous firm. Steele and ACE have filed a countersuit against the board claiming “malicious prosecution.”