Road commissioners awards garage bid

LINCOLN – Members of the Alcona County Road Commission selected Russo Engineering of Tawas City to design and engineer a new maintenance garage. The maximum amount of insurance money available is estimated to be around $1.245 million.

Russo’s design fee was not to exceed $36,848 and was good for 180 days, according to a separate document that was opened at the meeting.

Although the firm is considered to be smaller than its competitors, Campbell said engineer James Russo had experience designing maintenance garages at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base and interior modifications to the East Tawas Department of Public Works facility in 2012.

Although references for all of the firms were good, Russo also had a reputation for being easy to work with, Campbell said.

“When you call down you get him,” Campbell said.

Access to the firm was important, he said. “Something’s going to go wrong. I can tell that. We’re looking for ideas, even while they’re designing; we want creative ideas.”

“He’s very prompt,” said Commissioner Harry Harvey, who also is the county’s building inspector. “All the projects I’ve asked him to do, we get it right now.”

Commissioner Al Scully said the road crews “who are in there every day also should have some input.”

The fees of three other firms were substantially higher. R.S. Scott Associates of Alpena priced their design fees at $70,850; Spicer Group of Saginaw was not to exceed $76,000, excluding surveying, environmental assessments and testing; and Sidock Group of Gaylord was not to exceed $86,000.

Campbell said the timeline remains tight if the commissioners want the replacement maintenance garage finished by January 2015. The original facility was razed by fire last fall. Progress also may be necessary for political reasons, Harvey said, adding taxpayers have been expressing concern about increases in the county millage.

“First we need to get a plan,” Harvey said. “We need to get something growing here.”

Board members have been expressing worry that money for rebuilding the garage could be tight, because their insurance company hasn’t had experience with a claim this size. Sprinkler systems and other upgrades are required by code, but may not be covered by insurance.

In other business:

  • a set of $35,300 lifts ordered last week from CTT Equipment is expected to arrive sometime next week. The lifts will make maintenance of the road commission’s fleet easier to do.
  • authorized payment of $7,156 in bills, including payroll.
  • the road commission may consider hiring one new employee this spring and moving staff around. A lot of work needs to be completed this spring in the Curtisville area and along Hubbard Lake Trail.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.