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Bids come in high for plans to repair old county structure

May 05, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The cost of modernizing Franklin County's old poor house may be a lot more expensive than anticipated.

The Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday opened five bids on four contracts to upgrade Building 2, a three-story stone structure on Franklin Farm Lane that Commissioner Cheryl Plummer said dates back to 1814.

The low-end figure for the bids is $843,373. The consulting engineers to the county estimated the project should cost about $500,000, according to Lee Zeger of Dennis E. Black Engineering Inc. of Chambersburg.

"The county spent about half a million dollars on that in 1994-95," but it needs other improvements to bring it up to code, Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said.

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The required structural improvements are a new roof and the addition of an elevator, Zeger said.

R.A. Hill Inc. of Chambersburg was the only bidder on the general construction contract at $599,400. The bid on elevator installation was $56,000 by Eastern Elevator Sales and Service of Windber, Pa., and the single bid for electrical work was from Miller and Anderson Inc. of Clearbrook, Va., at $38,993.

Miller and Anderson bid $205,300 for plumbing, heating and air-conditioning work on the building and Tuckey Mechanical Services of Carlisle, Pa., bid $148,980.

The commissioners will meet Tuesday, May 18, to decide whether to award or reject the bids. Elliott said there is no timetable for construction.

A few years ago, the board announced its intention to build an agricultural services center. Approximately $400,000 in donations were raised and in October 2002, State Sen. Terry Punt, R-33rd, announced a $600,000 grant for the project from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Plans for the agriculture building changed with world events, Elliott said.

"We were expecting a $1.2 million federal grant that we didn't get," Elliott said. "That money left us when we went to war with Iraq."

Half the state grant will be used for the renovation. The balance of the project will be paid for from an existing bond issue, Elliott said.

The other half of the state grant and all the donated funds remain set aside for a separate agriculture building, Elliott said.

Building 2 now houses the Human Services Fiscal Department, the county's purchasing office and its computer systems office. Those offices will be moved either to the commissioners new suite of offices at 14 N. Main St., or to the Administrative Annex at 218 N. Second St., Elliott said.

There is vacant space in the annex's second floor where the federal Farm Service Agency and other agriculture-related offices had been until they moved to other leased space last year. Elliott said those offices may move into Building 2, or to a new agriculture building, once those leases expire.

Building 2 may become home to the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H, which are next door in another county building.

"Ultimately, some part or all of that building may be demolished and used as the footprint for the new building," Elliott said of the one next to Building 2. "The goal is to have a nice agricultural center along the stream that will ultimately be a one-stop shop" for services.

Building 2 "was built to be the original alms house for the county. That's what they were called in those days," Plummer said.

"Folks who had no other source of income could live there and become part of the farm operation" run by the county, she said. It later became the county's home for the elderly, Plummer said.

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