The Board of County Commissioners believed it had awarded the contract for one of the largest Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) road projects in the state earlier this month.

During a special meeting last week, the Board of County Commissioners headed off a bid protest by rejecting all bids and starting over on a project to widen and resurface County 386 with an estimated price tag of over $9 million.

The board approved rejecting the bids it opened earlier in the month as well as tweaking the Request for Proposals.

There will be a mandatory pre-bid meeting for all potential contractors, commissioners mandated.

County engineers Dewberry will “clarify some aspects” of the project.

The county would also double the time for response for bidders in the hope of attracting more bidders and securing a lower price, said attorney Jeremy Novak.

“Our bid protest is moot,” said Bob Flowers with CW Roberts. “It’s a nice project and y’all should be proud of it.”

The issue arose when bids were opened.

One of the sealed bids, from GAC, included the price written on the outside of the envelope; it was written before the deadline and in front of a member of the Clerk of Courts staff, but nonetheless written on the outside of the envelope.

The bid price inside the envelope was different from that written on the outside.

That, however, was also the lowest price among the bidders and commissioners awarded the bid to GAC.

On the agenda for last week’s meeting was a hearing for a bid protest from CW Roberts; Roberts and Roberts was the only other bidder on the project.

An attorney for CW Roberts said the company rescinded its bid protest following the county’s action returning to square one.

The matter did not end there.

Commissioner Ward McDaniel said later in the meeting that was he disappointed with the level of service the county was receiving from Dewberry since the Virginia-based company purchased Preble-Rish.

McDaniel said the County 386 project should have been bid, if not finished, before Hurricane Michael.

“This no reflection on Clay Smallwood, he does a yeoman’s job, but he needs help and I strongly feel we need to look at engineering,” McDaniel said. “The company (he is) working for I would like to send down the road.”

McDaniel noted the county had operated under the same continuing contract for 29 years, but the dynamics had changed since Preble-Rish was sold.

“Dewberry, in my opinion, is not doing Gulf County a service and we pay them a lot of money,” McDaniel said. “Maybe it is time to go out for bid.”

Administrator Michael Hammond said there was no excuse that the County 386 project was not bid before the hurricane.

“There has been a marked lack of help” for Smallwood from Dewberry, Hammond added, saying he would have communication with the company’s president about the county’s stance.

“I’m very dissatisfied with Dewberry, the company,” McDaniel said. “They may not want our business. We may be too small of a market.

“But there are other firms.”

Burn ban ended

Commissioners approved ending a burn ban put in place earlier in the month before recent heavy rains.