A Superior Court judge on Monday lifted a temporary restraining order preventing the construction of a new Evans Middle School.
In a written ruling filed Monday afternoon, Judge Neal Dickert said the Columbia County Board of Education did not violate state law when it waived its own requirement that a list of subcontractors be included in bids by contractors seeking to build the new school on Hereford Farm Road.
"At this point, with the record thus far, there does not appear to be any evidence that the school board has 'frustrated the bid process and awarded the contract to an unqualified bidder,'" Dickert stated in his ruling.
The judge heard arguments at an April 5 hearing.
At that hearing, school board attorney William Fleming asked Dickert to lift a temporary restraining order imposed on McKnight Construction Co. by Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. on March 31 that prevented McKnight from beginning construction on the new school. Fleming said the school board has the right to waive from its bidding process a requirement for a list of subcontractors, as the board did at a March 22 meeting when trustees voted 3-1 to give McKnight the $11.26 million contract.
Paul Dunbar, an attorney for R.D. Brown, which was the second-lowest bidder for the project and filed suit against the school board, told Dickert that the board violated state law by ignoring the subcontractor's list requirement.
"It this regard, it is important that this court not second-guess the wisdom of the school board in not insisting with strict compliance with the subcontractor requirement," Dickert stated.
The legal battle put in jeopardy the construction timetable for the school. It is scheduled to be ready for the start of the 2006-07 school year in August 2006.
Now that the restraining order has been lifted, the dispute put McKnight a week behind schedule on beginning construction.
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