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Washington Co. awards $232,156 contract for transportation museum

It will be the third building in the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum complex

November 01, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday awarded a $232,156 contract for construction of a transportation museum at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

The new building — described as a 7,200-square-foot, closed-in pole barn — will be the third building in the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum complex at the agricultural center on Sharpsburg Pike, south of Hagerstown.

It will house exhibits such as wagons, sleighs, buggies and antique cars, Jim Sterling, the county director of parks, recreation and facilities, has said.

The new building is being funded through a state grant and fundraising contributions. Of the $350,000 project budget, $175,000 is to come from the state and the other $175,000 from contributions.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to award a contract for construction of the new building to JCS Communications Inc. of Frederick, Md., the lowest of nine bidders for the project.

Commissioner John F. Barr abstained because his company, Ellsworth Electric, was listed as a subcontractor by some of the bidders, and Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham was absent because she is representing the commissioners at a conference.

County workers are preparing the concrete building slab and parking lot, Sterling said.

The building will have a wood frame, and metal siding and roofing panels, with no plumbing and limited mechanical and electrical systems, he said. The construction period is to last four months.

Not included in the contract awarded Tuesday is a separate restroom building that will be added to serve the expanded museum, Sterling said.

The project has been awarded two state grants: $100,000 in 2006, and $75,000 in 2010.

But Sterling said Tuesday there had been "a little problem" because the documents for one grant listed the museum's mailing address, while the paperwork for the other listed its physical address.

The issue will have to be reconciled during the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session, but enough funding is available to complete the new building in the meantime, he said.

In March, the commissioners approved a loan commitment for up to $59,000 to allow the project to move forward while the Agricultural Education Center finishes raising donations for the project.

Phil Muritz, president of the museum board, said then that his goal was to have the transportation museum operating by the spring of 2012, in time for the museum's annual spring open house.

Moving existing transportation-related exhibits into the new building will make room for more agriculture-related exhibits in the existing buildings, Muritz said.

The Agricultural Education Center and museum buildings are owned and maintained by Washington County as part of the park system, but the Rural Heritage Museum is run by volunteers.

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