Construction to begin for sheriff's office

Jul. 23, 2014 @ 11:08 AM

Upon further review, the Davidson County Board of Commissioners will move forward with the construction of a new Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

Nearly a month after they unanimously approved a bid contract with Barnhill Contracting Co. during their regular June 24 meeting, commissioners consented to proceeding with construction as soon as possible despite questions regarding unexpected fees.

Commissioner Steve Jarvis questioned an additional $60,000 in fixed fees in the final contract that were not included in the original request for proposal. All six commissioners present for the meeting voted in favor of approving the project, but agreed to discuss the discrepancy with its facilities committee.

After the discussion with the committee, Jarvis and Commissioner Todd Yates remained unsatisfied. The other five commissioners are prepared to move forward, however, so construction will begin – likely at some point next month.

“I did vote no to moving forward for the simple fact that they did not, in the facilities meeting, [satisfy] additional information requested,” Jarvis said. “Based on what we had voted, though, as soon as we got the two numbers I had questioned [at the June meeting] rectified, we were ready to move forward, so that is what took place.”

Jarvis has reiterated that he is in favor of the construction for a new sheriff’s office and anxiously awaits groundbreaking, but simply did not feel comfortable with a few of the details he believed should have been outlined more clearly.

Many of the concerns with the contract have been attributed to the complexity of the project. County officials elected to use a “design-build” method, which reportedly will save money. According to the Design-Build Institute of America, this method of project delivery allows a construction crew to work under a single contract with the project owner — in this case, the county — to provide both design and construction services.

With the understanding they would be embarking on new territory, commissioners approved a contract in February 2013 with Ramsey, Burgin, Smith Architects. The firm was paid to help the county sort through construction proposals.

The vetting process concluded when the bid was awarded to Barnhill, which agreed to perform construction of the proposed 60,000-square-foot facility that will sit on 5.8 acres just off U.S. Highway 64 near County Home Road purchased in December 2011.

The method of construction was one of the reasons county manager Robert Hyatt said hiring a consultant became a priority at the time.

“With this being the first time we did design-build, there was a misunderstanding in the fees,” said Zeb Hanner, assistant county manager. “Once [Barnhill] itemized everything, in the end, the board decided that as long as the clarifications were made, they were comfortable with that. [Purchasing director] Dwayne Childress gave Barnhill the notice to proceed.”

Given recent precipitation deteriorating the conditions of the plot, the construction, which was set to begin in either late July or early August, might be pushed back. Dan Pruitt, senior project manager at Barnhill Contracting Co., addressed concerns on waiting too much longer to begin during his presentation to the board at the June meeting.

“We cannot wait until [the fall],” Pruitt said of the looming precipitation which seems imminent during the fall and winter seasons. “I consider this a state-of-the-art project, and we want to work with you.”

Pruitt said Sheriff David Grice is agreeable to the design of the project and is also ready to move forward with plans.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3578, or at