May 20, 2018
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Hancock County considers courtroom renovation bids

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Hancock County Superior Court courtroom is due to get a facelift next month.

Who might do the work was a topic of discussion at the Hancock County commissioners meeting Tuesday morning. Three firms bid on the project, which is expected to involve repainting the courtroom and minor repairs of water damage and cracked plaster. Because of the court’s schedule, the work has to be completed between Feb. 4 and March 3.

Dennis Walls, the county’s facilities director, wanted to offer the job to the highest bidder, John M. Ronan of Rumford. Ronan, who bid $21,600 for the job, has the most experience of the three firms with courtroom renovation work, Walls said.

The other two bidders were Clark Painting of Portland, which bid $16,600, and Harville Painting and Wallpaper of Skowhegan, which bid $12,500. Walls said he did not believe either of the other two firms had sufficient experience to do the work to the county’s satisfaction.

Phil Roy, the county’s chief financial officer, said the county should not simply go with the highest bidder. He said he has had personal experience with both Clark and Harville and feels that they should be considered further.

“We shouldn’t be discarding these companies so quickly,” Roy said. “I feel either one of those smaller companies can do the job.”

Jeffrey Henthorn, director of court facilities for the state, was on hand and told county commissioners that the state would pay for half of the project’s cost, which it usually does with such projects. Henthorn did not recommend which firm to hire, but said Ronan recently did a good job renovating courtrooms in South Paris.

“The $12,500 bid [from Harville] worries me because it is so low,” he said.

Henthorn said Ronan has his own scaffolding and said the other firms should be asked whether they have scaffolding or if they would have to rent some to reach the courtroom’s high ceilings. A recent court renovation project in Rockland included $16,000 in scaffolding rental expenses, he said.

Commissioners asked Walls to question the firms about their scaffolding plans and to travel to other counties to research courtroom renovation projects by the bidders. Walls said he could do the research and get back to the commissioners by this Friday.

Court is expected to be in session in the superior courtroom on March 4, the day after the project deadline, officials said.

“We need to be sure the successful bidder knows this has to be done [on time],” said Percy “Joe” Brown, the commission chairman.

Walls said the proposed contract indicates that the county will not pay the final third of the payment costs of the project until the work is completed to the commissioners’ satisfaction.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

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