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Bertie inches forward on new high school plan

WINDSOR – The planning for a new Bertie High School continued to consume much of the time of the Bertie County Commissioners Monday night.

During their regular meeting the board heard from representatives of M.B. Kahn Construction about the possibility of managing the project, set a joint meeting with the Bertie County Board of Education and delayed the signing of an architect contract.

One of the first items on the agenda was a presentation from John Dunn and other representatives of M.B. Kahn. The group said they manage many construction projects and felt they had something to offer Bertie County.

“We are pleased to see you getting started with this project,” Dunn said. “In short, we would like to manage it for you.”

Dunn said he believed his company would be able to get the project done on time and save the county money.

A former superintendent, Dunn served as an interim in that position for Bertie County Schools in 1999. He also served in Camden and Edenton-Chowan Schools.

During his time as a school district leader he was involved in nine building projects, he said. Of those, M.B. Kahn managed eight, all of which he was pleased to see finish on time and save taxpayers money.

The group suggested a Construction Manager at Risk proposal in which the company would be responsible for getting the project done at a certain cost. If it went over that, the company would be responsible for the overruns.

They also said Kahn would work diligently to make sure local firms were included in the bidding process.

No cost for their services was discussed.

Following the discussion, Commission Chairman L.C. Hoggard III thanked them for their presentation and said the board would consider the proposal at a later time.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb then told the board there were other items on the agenda concerning the new high school, but suggested their removal. They included the adoption of the contract with Hite Associates as the architect and one with Davenport and Company for financial services.

“We need to hold a joint meeting with the board of education and get their support for the project before we move forward with those items,” Lamb said. “We will suggest meeting with the school board sometime next week.”

Later in the meeting, the board took up the issue of the joint meeting and agreed to hold the session sometime next week. The board members preferred a Wednesday gathering, but said they would be flexible if the school board could not meet on that day.

During that discussion, County Attorney Lloyd Smith suggested a detailed agenda for the meeting.

“We need to make sure we have an agenda that covers all the items that need to be discussed between the boards,” Smith said. “For example, the school board hasn’t agreed to lease the building yet. I’m sure we all know that is going to happen, but we have to have it in writing.”

Smith said he knew the boards were in agreement on the project and that there likely would be no problems, but the two still needed to “cross the t’s.”

Hoggard asked Lamb and Smith to work with School Board Attorney Rod Malone to make sure the agenda covered all the items necessary to move forward with the new high school.