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Original contractor to complete North Hagerstown High track

September 05, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- Craig Paving Inc. will build a track that could be sanctioned for college-level events at North Hagerstown High School, Washington County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael announced Thursday.

The track will be built to specifications that would allow it to be used for college-level events.

The agreement was announced hours before the Washington County Board of Education was scheduled to consider bids from another company to repair the track.

At $310,360, Craig Paving's contract to build the track is less than half the amount that Finley Asphalt & Sealing bid for the project.

Finley Asphalt & Paving of Manassas Park, Va., submitted a bid of $773,630 to build a high-school level track and $855,194 to build a track that could be sanctioned for college-level events.

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Those were the only bids received by the school system.

Michael said Craig Paving has been paid $105,624 for the work on the track that has been done so far and will receive the remaining $204,736 when the track is finished.

Work on the track will start the week of Sept. 8 and is scheduled to be finished by Nov. 3, Michael said.

Craig Paving and the school system have disagreed about what kind of track the company was contracted to build at North High.

Michael said Craig Paving will proceed "as planned" on a track with a 1 percent slope, a standard that would allow the track to be sanctioned for NCAA and USA Track and Field events.

"The plan from the time we awarded the contract was for it to be a 1 percent track," Michael said Thursday.

Roger Craig, president of Craig Paving Inc., said previously that the school system contracted with the company to build a high school-level track and, after the track was finished, asked that the track be rebuilt to college-level standards.

Reached by phone Thursday, Craig said he will lose a "ton of money" by rebuilding the track under the existing contract.

"We regret that for them, but we are glad Craig will honor the contract," Michael said Thursday.

Craig said Thursday he wasn't sure how much money he will lose.

"I'll know when the work is finished," Craig said. "I agreed to do this in good faith. My father taught me to do my best every day. That's what I'm going to do ... I'm going to bite the bullet."

Craig said workers would have to mill the track to bring it up to NCAA-qualified standards by reducing the cross slope from 1.2 percent to 1 percent.

He reiterated that the school board hired him to build a high school track. Had he known officials wanted a college track, which he said requires more intricate equipment to build, Craig said he probably wouldn't have accepted the job.

To expedite the project, the school system will spend $5,700 to remove the chain-link fence around the track and replace it when the track is finished, Michael said.

In addition to building the track, Craig Paving Inc. will install a walkway for $46,527, Michael said.

"We're happy to have reached an agreement and get this project finished," Michael said.

Several people applauded the agreement, which will give North High a usable track for the first time since Mike Callas Stadium was completed in 2006.

"This is a good business decision," Board Member Ruth Anne Calaham said.

John Williamson, former chairman of the Mike Callas Stadium Committee, congratulated the school board, Michael and Craig Paving on reaching an agreement to finish the track.

"The fifty year dream of a completed stadium at North Hagerstown High School can now be realized," Williamson wrote in an e-mail.

Citizens for Protection of Washington County representative Barbara Hovermale said she opposed spending $855,194 on a college-level track and was happy to hear the agreement will not cost taxpayers more money.

"I came in opposition to a class-A track. I'm very happy to hear about the press release (announcing the agreement), that the public will be aware that things have moved to, hopefully, a final solution," Hovermale said.

Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan and some board members defended the school system Thursday against charges that it has not been open with the public about the problems with the track.

"I regret that we couldn't talk because of the potential for litigation," Morgan said.

Michael said litigation had been possible between Craig Paving and the school system but that legal action was no longer anticipated.

During citizens' participation, Allen Swope of Williamsport suggested that the school board should be more open with the public so as to "avoid these kind of situations."

"We would have loved to have a press release out earlier," said school board President Roxanne R. Ober, who said the announcement was made shortly after the agreement was reached.

The bids from Finlay Asphalt & Sealing that were to be considered by the Board of Education Thursday to rebuild the track were stricken from the agenda.

Staff writer Dan Dearth contributed to this story.

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