For years the county supervisors have been screaming about how dangerous the dam is. (Notice it’s only them), not MDEQ, USACE, or any other agency. But now, I agree. The dam has a huge hole in it which is sucking up all our money. The supervisors believe if they keep throwing enough of our money into the hole, the dam can survive, not as a public facility but a private one so anyone wanting to fish, boat, or picnic will pay to use it. With the money approved Monday, the taxpayers now have about $470,000 invested in the repair design of the dam.
The Dispatch reported Mr. Bill McDonald saying the cost estimate was based on MDEQ requirements and “That’s what is driving the cost of the improvements.” But as Mr. McKercher of MDEQ reminded us according to the Dispatch, “These are all things the county has known about since 1979, and the county hasn’t taken any action to remediate those issues.”
In May 2022, the BOS decided to advertise a RFQ to evaluate the county lake dam. May 24, 2022 was the due date. The county got two RFQ packages before the May 24 deadline, one from Schnabel Engineering and one from Neel-Schaffer. On June 18, 2021 the county got a “Professional Services Agreement” from Mississippi Engineering Group, (MSEG) that was dated June 1, 2021. Note: A Professional Service Agreement isn’t an RFQ, and this one contained none of the bullet items requested by the county. Several major problems about this selection: The RFQs were due May 24. There is no public record of who would evaluate the RFQs, how would the RFQs be scored, or even who would bring it to the BOS for approval.
The Dispatch reported Supervisor Howard saying, MSEG was more of a “project manager” with access to experts, and he believes this route is more efficient. What? So, if Mr. Howard wanted his house painted, he would pay someone to pay someone to do the work. He was then quoted: “I’m not sure there’s a firm out there that can do all the work from beginning to end.” There are dozens like Schnabel and Neel-Schaffer that could, if he had only cared to look. MSEG is getting Schnabel’s design help. Yep, the same Schnabel who submitted a RFQ that Mr. Howard was supposed to review last year and rejected.
Sad, but more money will be wasted on the design with no funding in sight. Meanwhile, the $9 million of the ARPA funds sit there and should be moved to projects that would get matching funds. This would provide for $18 million of improvements for our county.
George Sills, Starkville
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