Board OKs jail contract negotiations

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A couple of pointed verbal exchanges between to Beaufort County commissioners preceded a 4-3 vote to authorize county staff to negotiate contracts related to building a new jail in the county.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, during its meeting Monday, instructed County Manager Randell Woodruff and other county staff to negotiate a contract with Moseley Architects for architectural services related to building a new jail/sheriff’s office facility. It also instructed county staff to negotiate a contract with MB Kahn to provide construction-management services for the project.

The contracts, once ready, would come before the board for approval. The board’s actions regarding the two contracts does not obligate the county to build a new jail, which would be located in the Chocowinity Industrial Park.

Voting to authorize the contract negotiations were board Chairman Jerry Langley and commissioners Ed Booth, Robert Belcher (all Democrats) and Al Klemm, a Republican. Voting against the authorizations were commissioners Hood Richardson, Stan Deatherage and Gary Brinn.

Richardson, who opposes building a new jail, renewed his complaint that the authorization of the contract negotiations was a done deal before the jail committee reviewed companies’ qualifications to perform the services related to building a new jail. Richardson asked to see committee members’ rating sheets for each company that submitted proposals to provide the services sought. Richardson contended those rating sheets are public documents and should be available for inspection.

Langley said committee did not violate any laws regarding the review process. Langley said Richardson is suffering from sour grapes because his proposal to build a new jail behind the existing courthouse and jail facilities was rejected. Because of that rejection, Langley said, Richardson has worked to “derail” the current plans related to building a new jail. Langley said Richardson’s comments about the review process were nothing more than “grasping at straw” in an effort to discredit that process.

Klemm said he believes that he and other committee members — Langley and Belcher — carefully reviewed the submitted proposals and chose the best qualified companies for the county to consider hiring to work on the jail project.

“As far as I know, we followed every single step in relation to the process that we’re required to follow. I am a wrong on that, Randell?” Klemm said.

“I believe you’re correct,” Woodruff replied.

Klemm offered to make public his spreadsheet related to his rankings of the companies that submitted proposals.

Langley said anyone who wants to see how the review process transpired may view a video-audio recording of the meeting in which the committee reviewed and discussed the proposals.

For additional coverage of the board’s meeting, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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