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Grounbreaking set for justice center
JD justicenew
An architect's rendering of what the new justice center will look like. - photo by Image provided
Liberty County commissioners learned that construction of a county justice center will cost a little under $19.7 million at Thursday’s mid-month meeting.
Commissioner Gary Gilliard said he liked knowing the project now has a price cap after project manager Bill Vickery of Pope Construction presented the guaranteed maximum price at $19,652,481.
“There’s not many guarantees,” Gilliard said. “If you get one, the way the economy is today, that’s a pretty good thing.”
Construction costs also included a $600,000 project contingency.
“I think from where we started we can see the great reduction in the final guaranteed price,” Chairman John McIver said.
Recent economic changes allowed the construction manager to pass on the savings.  
“Of course, we had a tremendous decrease in material supplies,” Vickery said.
David Holton of James W. Buckley & Associates, the project’s architect, admitted “value engineering” can be a “tough process…from both sides of the table.”
“But I think it was very successful,” he said. “We were able to reduce costs without reducing the quality of the building. And, honestly, you won’t be able to tell the difference.”
Commissioner Pat Bowen wanted to make sure there was no way the county could end up paying more, in the possible unfortunate event a business folds.
Vickery explained Pope would be solely responsible for making sure the project goes forward on schedule.
“That’s why it is very important to us to select and hire sub-contractors that are less likely to do so,” Vickery said.
As construction manager, Pope Construction was responsible for getting sub-contractors and bids closed last month.
Vickery was particularly pleased to report they probably doubled state requirements for minority participation, estimating 17 percent.
“And I would assume I am undercutting it somewhat,” he said.
Vickery also wanted to make sure that anyone, including “just a regular carpenter who owned a hammer,” had bidding opportunity.
All the lumber, concrete and brick from the 100,000 square-foot building will be from local material suppliers.
“If we got some folks here, I hope we’ll try to use them,” Commissioner Eddie Walden said.
More than 20 gold-plated shovels, gripped by the commissioners and many judicial personnel to be housed in the justice center, will mark the beginning of construction at 11 a.m. Feb. 3.
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