Alls well as ends well, as the saying goes - and rarely has that been more true than with the Columbia County Commissions recent reversal of its decision to reject the winning bid for construction of the countys new main library.
County Commissioner Tom Mercer, one of two commissioners blocking the $8.5 bid to McKnight Construction, had a change of heart just a few days later, reversing his vote and getting unanimous approval.
Unanimous, that is, among those attending; Commissioner Diane Ford, who also opposed the bid, was absent. Days earlier, her vote, with Mercers, was enough to kill the bid when commissioners Mark Devoti and Steve Brown themselves were absent from a special called meeting. Chairman Ron Cross, voting in favor of McKnight, was unable to save the bid as it fell by a 2-1 vote.
Aside from Ford, however, the rest of the commissioners made it back to the table for another shot at the bid. The earlier-dissenting Mercer was the key to McKnights approval. His previous vote, he said, was designed to send a message to the contractor that multiple change-orders, such as those that plagued construction of the countys new jail, wouldnt be accepted.
There indeed may have been some problems by McKnight - but the county must shoulder much of the blame. When the jail and Justice Center projects started two years ago, Columbia County hired a construction management company to oversee both jobs.
The results were disastrous. The company was a meddling middleman, interfering with communication between the county and McKnight, and with Justice Center contractor CCI Construction, too. Firing the middle-managers helped put both projects back on track.
Mercer admits holding up the library bid award to McKnight may have been, as we called it recently, silly. Still, message received: McKnight knows its work on the new library will be closely watched, with much-improved county oversight.
Even better news is that this last-minute snarl will soon be a figment of distant memory. Tuesday at 5 p.m., Columbia County will break ground on the long-awaited new main library and performing arts center in Evans.
Patrons knew even before a 1997 study that Columbia County needed to replace the outgrown Gibbs Library. Its taken this long to navigate through the planning stages, get voter-approved funding via the sales tax and then endure further delays as the economy slowed tax collections. Finally, though, the stars have all lined up properly, and the project is at last on track for construction to begin.
Scrutiny over the start of the process should translate into increased interest in the quality of what promises to be a true gem for the countys citizens.
In other words - alls well, when it ends well.
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