Jayson VandeHoef talks road construction

Board member Jayson VandeHoef discusses the Tyler Avenue construction project at the Osceola Board of Supervisors meeting on Friday, Aug. 28.

SIBLEY—Delayed road construction held up decisions during the Osceola County Board of Supervisors meeting on Friday, Aug. 28.

Interim county engineer Dan Eckert updated the board on a two-year construction project along Tyler Avenue in Ocheyedan, which was completed in June, seven months behind schedule.

Midwest Contracting of Marshall, MN, and Godbersen-Smith Construction of Ida Grove were contracted to grade and pave a two-mile stretch of Tyler Avenue between Highway 9 and 170th Street to the west of Ocheyedan.

The $150,000 project was started in 2018 to facilitate access to the new Corporate Farmers Elevator feed mill.

Construction was supposed to be finished last November. The county is considering collecting compensation from Godbersen-Smith for missing the project deadline.

“In my mind there’s 31 days where the grade was ready in summer of 2019 and Midwest was done, they were gone, they left and Godbersen didn’t show up,” Eckert said. “Those 31 days, I think we’ve got a real good reason to hold. If they had come in when the grade was ready for them, no question they would have been done by November of last year.”

Godbersen-Smith has a nearly $70,000 contract with the county for grading Tyler Avenue. An additional $18,400 would be paid out later to cover grass seeding and painting stripes on the road.

According to the terms of the contract, the county can claim liquidated damages from Godbersen-Smith for starting work too late in the year to meet their deadline.

Board member Jayson VandeHoef argued that Godbersen-Smith should owe for every day past the agreed-upon completion date stated in the original contract, Nov. 19, 2019.

“My math on calendar days brought it to 105,” VandeHoef said. “I guess if you showed me the specifics of the contract and it references those working days maybe in another place, but I have a hard time going beyond that the words clearly say per calendar day after the deadline.”

Board member Jerry Helmers added that some sort of payout should be owed to the county for having to keep detours open longer than originally intended.

“There ought to be a figure in there on having to use Main Street in Ocheyedan for an extra year,” Helmers said. “There should be something, I mean there’s wear and tear on that road, too.”

The board agreed to wait for a complete assessment from the LeMars-based project engineer, Wayne Schlotfeldt, before making a final decision of how much to negotiate as damages owed by Godbersen-Smith.

In the interim, the board agreed to pay out 50 percent of the contract to Godbersen-Smith for paving work completed, a total of $35,000.

“It would be a little unreasonable to retain more than we think what the liquidated damages should be,” VandeHoef said. “This much work has been done.”

The board also agreed to pay the full amount owed to Midwest Contracting for grading Tyler Avenue, a little more than $63,000.

Midwest Contracting was slightly delayed in completing the contract, which started in 2018 and ended in the late summer 2019. Eckert said this was due to poor weather and is not something the company would be liable to pay damages for.

“In 2018, it was off the charts a wet season so it’s really hard to move dirt and compact dirt when it’s wet,” Eckert said.

OTHER BUSINESS:

In other agenda items at the Aug. 28 meeting, the Osceola County Board of Supervisors approved:

  • Amending the 2020-21 budget to add $225,000 to cover costs of construction on Tyler Avenue not included in the original budget, and an additional $3,724 to cover salary increases.
  • Applying for a Help American Vote subgrant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The grant will provide $10,000 to the county to pay for COVID-19 mitigation measure for voting. The county plans to purchase masks, gloves, plastic voting booths and a ballot counting machine with the funds.
  • Increasing stipends for township clerks and trustees. Trustee stipends were raised to $25 for two mandatory annual township meetings and $8 for any additional meetings. Township clerks will be paid $10 per hour with a cap of 12 hours per year. The county has openings for two township clerks.