TRM field, track work could begin soon

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Work could begin soon on improvements to the T.R. Miller athletic facilities, including a new practice field and track as well as renovated restrooms and concession stand at the stadium.

The Brewton City Board of Education on Monday awarded a bid to Hyperion Construction of Mobile for the $2 million project. Nearly half of the project will be paid for with a donation, while the rest of the money will be paid for by a bond issue, Superintendent Lynn Smith said.

The project attracted 11 bidders, including Starfish Construction of Brewton.

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Starfish co-owner Leigh Najor told board members Monday she was disappointed a local company did not get the bid.

“We’re local,” she said. “It’s competitive to get work in Brewton. We’re just as qualified as Hyperion.”

Najor pointed out that Starfish’s base bid was lower than Hyperion’s, but school board officials explained that state law requires them to consider the lowest bid when both the base and all alternates are added together.

And although the state allows local boards to give preference to local contractors with a 3 percent leeway on the bids, school board member Terrill Neal said the board has never used that preference.

“You’re putting yourself in a box,” he said, noting that the school board would always have to use the 3 percent preference in the future to avoid accusations of discrimination.

Bids included four alternate items for the project, including a track surface similar to those used at the University of Alabama and Auburn University. If the board accepted the project by the base bid and awarded it to Starfish, Smith said, the school would not be able to use that track surface.

Smith said he would have preferred to give the contract to a local company.

Work on the track could begin soon, but Smith said the restroom and concession stand work would begin closer to the end of football season.