By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners told members of the Belknap County Convention this week that they would like to use a portion of the $8 million bond issue approved last year by county legislators to fix an ongoing problem with the roof of the Belknap County Nursing Home.
Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) told the convention when it met Monday night for a work session on the budget that the commission is working out the details of a contract with Bauen Construction of Meredith as construction manager for the project, which calls for a guaranteed not-to-exceed maximum price of $7.3 million for the 18,000-square-foot, 64-bed facility.
He said the $7.3 million includes repairs to the existing jail as well as the new construction, and that leaves $700,000 which commissioners would like to see used on the county nursing home roof.
'"The roof was done 10 years ago but it failed," said DeVoy, who said that the county signed on to a class action suit against the contractor but received only a small settlement.
He explained that the county has received two estimates for the roof: $550,000 for a metal roof and $750,000 for the kind of shingled roof the nursing home currently has.
DeVoy suggested the best course of action would be move ahead with replacing the nursing home roof while construction of the community corrections center is underway, which would mean that a roofing contractor would be on site and able to handle both jobs, which he anticipates would produce considerable cost savings for the county.
He said that the same approach should be used with paving contractors in order to allow the county to repave the current access road and front parking lot at the Belknap County complex while paving which is part of the community corrections project is taking place.
Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) noted that the bond issue numbers which were presented to legislators last year included a $700,000 contingency fund and asked "if the roof is included, do you still have a $700,000 cushion?" DeVoy said that the $7.3 million maximum price includes a $700,000 contingency.
Gallagher questioned why that information wasn't available at the time of the vote and DeVoy said that the information wasn't developed until recently. "We went with the $8 million. That's what we were presented with," said DeVoy, who added "our goal is to build it as cheaply as we can."
Rep. Frank Tilton (R-Laconia), chairman of the County Convention, said that he liked the approach of having a construction management company which could deliver a guaranteed maximum price and wondered when the guarantee would be put in writing.
DeVoy said that the contract is in the hands of the attorneys and is currently bring reviewed by Primex, the county's insurer, and the commission's attorney, Paul Fitzgerald of Laconia.
Commissioners also explained their decision to have a receptionist on duty seven days a week, as well as in the evenings until the front door is locked, at the Belknap County Nursing Home.
Currently, visitors to the nursing home can walk into the facility any time that the door is unlocked and make their way through the facility without checking in at the front desk of the business office, a situation which commissioners decided should not be allowed to continue, in part for security reasons.
"Anyone can walk into the nursing home without checking in. These are the most vulnerable people and we have no security checkpoint," said DeVoy. He said that the county plans to have receptionists on duty from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day of the week and have added about $45,000 in funds to the nursing home budget to fill those positions starting April 1.
Rep. Roy Howard (R-Alton) wondered if it was possible to fill those receptionist positions with work release inmates and DeVoy said it isn't practical, as it would put them "in a prime position to get contraband into the jail."
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