Contractor selected for DSS facility

Published 10:39 am Thursday, January 5, 2012

JACKSON — The Northampton County Department of Social Services new facility has secured a contractor for construction.

On Wednesday, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved J.M. Thompson Company to be awarded the contract to construct the new Northampton County DSS building pending approval from the Local Government Commission.

DSS Director Dr. Al Wentzy presented the commissioners with the recommendation handed down from the DSS Board, per the architect’s certified bid recommendation, to approve the Raleigh-based firm for the work.

The recommendation further requested that County Manager Wayne Jenkins be authorized to affect the necessary financial documentation to move the project forward and to affect change orders up to, but not to exceed the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development/American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding authorizations.

“The Northampton County Board of Commissioners prioritized as one of their top priorities, based on need, building a new DSS building,” said Wentzy.

He added DSS is an economic development driver and provides caring outreach to 40-50 percent of the county’s citizens. It also infuses more than $60 million annually into the economy.

According to information provided by Wentzy, 13 contractors submitted bid proposals for the project ranging in cost from $6.34 million to $5.92 million. J.M. Thompson Company submitted that low bid.

Jenkins and Finance Officer Dot Vick gave their approval of the recommendation contingent upon approval from the LGC.

Commissioner Robert Carter moved to approve, contingent upon LGC approval, to move forward with the DSS building. Commission Vice Chairwoman Virginia Spruill offered a second and the motion carried without objection.

In October, the commissioners agreed to move forward cautiously with the project after it was placed on hold for months due to the uncertain economy.

The $7.46 million project was made possible through an opportunity for the county to be reimbursed by the federal government for 65 percent of the cost of the building as well as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds funneled through the USDA Rural Development.

The new facility is funded by a 30-year, $6.96 million loan as well as a $500,000 grant. Congressman G.K. Butterfield helped secure $300,000 in additional funding for the grant. The estimated annual debt payment would be around $440,000, with the county being reimbursed for 65 percent of that amount.