410 board questions effort to find local project providers

Confusion over whether local service providers were given an opportunity to submit bids for an $118,480 safety-related project led the USD 410 Board of Education to delay a vote on the project until more information was gathered.

The board met via phone for a special meeting Friday to approve the project that will provide a new intercom, clock and bell system for the middle/high school and the elementary school to ensure blanket coverage in case of emergencies.

With the discussion nearing a vote, board member Jim Paulus, who was absent from the April 10 regular meeting, asked Superinten­dent Max Heinrichs to clarify his follow-up emails about whether local providers had been invited to bid on the project.

Heinrichs said he had interpreted “local bidders” to mean companies that had had previously done work with USD 410 projects.

“There really was no one from Hillsboro or Marion County that bid this project,” he said.

Heinrichs said he discovered later that one local business did have the expertise needed for the project, but he had not been contacted about bidding.

Paulus said another local provider had generated information for P1Group, but had not been invited to bid on the project.

One board member asked if P1Group was soliciting local bids.

“Did we ask (P1Group) for everybody to have a chance in our area?” Heinrichs said. “Yes, we did.”

As the discussion wound down, and it appeared the motion would be tabled, Board President Rod Koons said: “I really think we should go on with (the vote). But if there is uncomfortableness here, and we get a split decision, I think we need to back away. If we have questions, we should get those answers for good-faith reasons.”

Other business

On other matters, the board voted 5-0 to approve a contribution agreement between Tradewind-Diamond Vista and the school district that USD 410 will benefit financially from the new wind farm project in northern Marion County.

Heinrichs said the company is estimating about 45 wind turbines will generate $85,050 annually for the district for the next 10 years.

“The intent of this agreement is to help provide something to the schools during the 10-year utility property tax exemption,” according to the proposal. “Once 10 years have elapsed, the project will be paying taxes and the schools will be compensated through taxes instead of this agreement.”

The board voted 5-0 to extend a contract to Denise Evans to be the HES preschool teacher for the district’s 4-year-old, all-day preschool classroom.

Heinrich said Evans, a native of Marion, also is a certified nurse.

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