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Delay in jail project could trigger penalties

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- The contractor for the regional jail under construction in Warren County faces penalties triggered by delays in the project.

The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority board voted Thursday to grant a request by Howard Shockey & Sons Inc. to extend the substantial completion date to April 30. The board had previously granted an extension of the date from March 28 to April 18. Required testing of certain systems could not take place in time to meet that date.

The contractor asked for another extension to allow the subcontractor installing the security systems time to conduct the required equipment tests. The subcontractor had not been able to hold the tests, according to Shockey representatives. Testing would start April 25 and take place during the weekend. Moseley Architects also must review the testing.

The contractor has been issued a temporary certificate of occupancy for the building -- a major step in the construction project.

The extension in the substantial completion date would not affect the opening of the facility set for July 1. Nor would the extension interrupt the ongoing transition into the facility.

Doug Stanley, board chairman and county administrator for Warren County, asked if the delay in testing would affect the jail's training and move-in schedule. The jail's Deputy Superintendent Russell Gilkison said he didn't know the immediate effect the delay would have on the schedule.

"We want to be as accommodating as we can but we realize, as you do, we've got a firm date when we gotta start moving folks," Stanley said.

In a letter from Moseley Architects dated Tuesday, the company asked for additional compensation to cover the extra time it spends on site with the project. The letter notes that the firm would need to provide construction services beyond the 665 days of its contract from the notice to proceed to substantial completion and the two months following to the project close out. Moseley proposed that it receive an additional $17,916 per month, beginning May 28 and continuing until final completion. Likewise, Moseley proposes that it receive an additional $15,600 per month beginning June 1 to final completion for on-site representation services.

While the exact amount in compensation, including liquidated damages, has not been calculated, the total would represent a small fraction of the cost of the nearly $80 million project.

Moseley Architects Vice President Anthony "Tony" Bell III explained to the board that the firm's services are set to expire 60 days from the date of substantial completion. Extending the substantial completion date pushes back that period.

James Marstin, the owner representative for the project, said the board's finance committee would likely need to discuss the matter of compensation.

Stanley explained after the meeting that the contractor would not pay the penalties. Rather, the authority would deduct the penalties from the amount it pays to the contractor. While the delay rests on the security detention subcontractor, Howard Shockey & Sons holds the responsibility as contractor on the project, Stanley said.

Marstin advised the board that the contractor continues to submit change orders as costs for project increase or decrease. Marstin has received more than $422,000 in change orders over the course of the construction, using less than 16 percent of the money in the budget earmarked for unexpected cost increases.

Marstin, in updating the board on the project, noted that some delays are not uncommon during the construction of a large, regional jail.

"It's a lot of parts and pieces to put together," Marstin said.

But the project overall remains on track, Marstin added, noting that the contractor "is doing an excellent job."

The board also learned that the jail authority might need to provide medical services to inmates through in-house means rather than through a private contractor. Bids for the services came in higher than expected and exceeded what the authority had budgeted.

The board also heard an update on staffing efforts from Gilkison. Hiring and training continues. Gilkison said the jail staff members are keeping six to 10 positions vacant in an effort to save money. The next group of recruits begins training Monday, Gilkison said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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