Board of Commissioners give Ag Center some help

The Union County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to approve the construction of a storage building near the Agricultural Center, and waived the county’s Procurement Policy.

“The Master Gardner Association is in need of a storage building near the greenhouse located at the Ag Center,” said Jeff Rieves, extension agent for horticulture. “The association provides numerous hours of program support to the citizens of Union County.”

Rieves said the red apron-clad volunteers are an enormous asset to the county, providing more than 5,000 hours of work put back into the community in 2011, valued at $107,000.

“This is a need of a group of highly valued volunteers,” Rieves said. “And it’s because of the growth and the increasing needs of that program that we’re asking the commissioners to help us with the quandary of a group wanting to build on county property.”

The Master Gardener’s Association will assume all costs involved in the construction of the building, budgeted for $12,000 to $20,000. The association did, however, request that the board waive the county’s Procurement Policy, which would enable the selection of a contractor based on something other than just the lowest reasonable bid, Rieves said.

“Again, because this project is less than $30,000, there are no statutory requirements for procurement of this construction, only the county’s internal policy,” he said. “It may be that the right contractor costs slightly more.”

The storage building would belong to the county after it is constructed, Rieves said, and the county would assume all further costs for maintenance and insurance of the building.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Jerry Simpson, said the building is a true need for the group.

“The storage building is necessary to store equipment used in developing educational demonstrations conducted by cooperative extension,” he said.
Simpson added the Master Gardeners are an important part of Union County.

“The Master Gardeners go way back in Union County,” Simpson said. “They are instrumental to us.”

Abbie Bennett, abbie@unioncountyweekly.com

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