NCSD Defends Bid Selections [AUDIO]
Natrona County School District Officials speak out following protests that their construction contract selection process was skewed and sends too many dollars out of state. They say the complexity of design and construction need a closer look.
Natrona County School District Administrator, Mark Antrim, heads up Facilities and Technology.
"While it's an out-of-state firm leading the design process you have a bunch of Casper firms that are key players in that process."
With the school district under heat for their bid decisions, Antrim points to the renovation of Kelly Walsh High School as an example of where firms from Colorado and Nebraska will work along side local engineers and partner with another Casper firm, Amundsen Associates.
"They (Amundsen) will primarily participate in construction administration roles but they'll be there through out the design process. W-L-C, Worthington-Lenhart, carpenter-civil engineers are the civil engineers on that team. They are from Casper. Lower & Company is the structural engineer- from Casper."
Audrey Cotherman, School Board Chair and member of the Natrona County High School renovation selection committee says in selecting the firms for that project they looked at five pages of criteria. She says there were three critical elements; renovation of historical buildings, renovation of historical schools...
"and having experience in renovating a building while the students were in it."
Cotherman maintains there were no local firms who met the criteria and she reminds that the process was governed by Wyoming law..
"If we had not followed the rules and regulations laid down by the legislature and the state commission we wouldn't have any funds at all; not for the building, not for the kids, and not for the workers in Casper."
A contractor preference law passed by the current legislature requires that 70 percent of dollars to be spent locally, though that applies only to construction and not design.
Total cost of the three high school projects is expected to come in around 100 million dollars.