Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hill County government is once again facing off against a contractor regarding the rebuilding of the steps at the main entrance to the county courthouse. Less than two months after a settlement was made on the first time the steps were rebuilt, completed in 2004, Hill County has cancelled contracts with the firm that did the construction on the first project and then rebuilt the steps again this year. Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson said the county has terminated contracts with Phillips Construction of Great Falls to continue the work on the steps on the south side of the courthouse and to complete replacing the concrete floor of the first level of the courthouse. The county is in negotiation with Phillips’ attorney about payment for the work on the stairs. “It is based on the slope of the stairs,” Peterson said last week, adding that she could not make further comment on the project while in negotiations. The representative of Phillips Construction on the courthouse steps project was not available for comment this morning. After work was completed in 2004, the county filed a lawsuit against Milk River Engineering of Havre and Springer Group, an architectural firm from Bozeman, which did the design work on the $340,100 project. The lawsuit alleged that the slope of the steps was too low to properly drain and that railings did not meet legal requirements. The contractors working on the project, Phillips, Mammoth Erection of Great Falls and Lapke Consruction of Simms, were named as third-party defendants by Milk River Engineering. On Oct. 5, the parties named agreed to a settlement with no admission of fault or blame to reimburse the county. Milk River Engineering agreed to pay $300,000, Springer to pay $35,000, Phillips to pay $30,000, Mammoth to pay $25,000 and Lapke to pay $20,000, for a total of $410,000. Last spring, citing issues with the pending lawsuit, the county decided to continue with Phillips as the company to do the new work on the steps as a continuation of the project rather than submitting the project to new bids. The contract the county had with Phillips for work being done on the ground floor has been terminated and the work is being finished by Nault Plumbing and the Trevor Smith Co., Peterson said. There is no dispute on the work on that project already completed by Phillips, she said. The contract for the project on the courthouse steps, a $396,550 project, has been terminated for cause, she said, and the payment for work completed is part of what is being discussed. Peterson said the county is investigating the possibility that the steps could be completed without having to start the project over completely. “We are looking at different options,” she said.