Polk DSS building repairs begin

Published 10:00 pm Monday, October 6, 2014

By Leah Justice

The Polk County Department of Social Service (DSS) building is currently undergoing repairs, including the digging up and replacement of a sewer line.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Sept. 22 and heard from commissioner Keith Holbert who showed a slideshow of photographs of the work
completed so far.

Holbert said last fall commissioners saw a slide show of discrepancies in the original construction and work to repair some of the issues began on Sept. 15. Holbert said contractors went into the common area of the kitchen and dug out and replaced the sewer line there.

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“They did a phenomenal job,” Holbert said.

He said all dirt and gravel was replaced in the area and the morning of Sept. 22 they were putting glue in to replace the tiles in the kitchen.

In July, after about two and a half years of issues, Polk County Commissioners decided to move forward with some repairs to its human services building.
Commissioners awarded a bid to GEM Constructors Inc. for a total of $82,146 to fix what they referred to as punch list items, including the sewer issues. It was
discovered that the sewer line did not have the correct fall, which besides issues with the HVAC system were some of the problems with the construction project.

Interim Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said on Sept. 22 that underneath the bathroom is still showing 1-2 inches of standing water and the county was at the
time still waiting to see if it needs to do repair work there.

Holbert said if there’s still water in the pipe, then the county needs to push this and get it fixed.

“We don’t want any standing water,” Holbert said.

Pittman also said painting has been completed and contractors are slowly knocking out the punch list items.

The DSS building, or human services building, has had issues since the county moved into the new building in December 2011. The county hired special consultants MBP Carolinas Inc. to determine what repairs are needed for the building’s HVAC system, which is the main item in need of repairs. A surety company will settle with the county to pay for the repairs once all repairs are complete, including to the HVAC system. The county will pay for the contract with GEM Constructors then be reimbursed by the surety company once a settlement is reached.

The county is still waiting for MBP to make a determination on the HVAC system prior to those repairs moving forward.

The county hired Able Constructors to construct the building, with owner acceptance being achieved on Dec. 9, 2011 approximately one year after construction of the facility began. The building is located off Wolverine Trail in Mill Spring, with the county moving into the new facility from the Jervey-Palmer building
in Tryon, originally St. Luke’s Hospital.

Since the completion of the new DSS building, the county experienced multiple environmental conditions and mechanical system operational issues that led to
warping of doors as well as blockage in the sewer line and humidity issues. The county has been negotiating with the bonding surety company and is still trying
to determine who is liable for the issues in the building. Able Contractors is no longer in business.

Polk did not complete payments to Able Contractors because of the issues and the project not being completed on time, withholding $75,000 of the construction