Construction excuses frustrate commission

658
NATCOM CENTER

By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Frustration continues to grow over the delays in construction of the 911 Communications Center (NATCOM) that was expected to be ready in July. At the Natchitoches Parish Communications District meeting Sept. 18, architect George Minturn said the contract with Pat Williams Construction Co. was put in default May 26 which could result in $100 per day for damages. Those fees could be realized as a change order deduction when the project is complete.

There are several reasons for the delay. The contractor has been 100 days behind on another job. Minturn said the biggest delay began with inclement weather when the project began in February of 2016. Also, the construction superintendent was critically injured in a wreck and there was a problem of coordinating subcontractors. The latest update is that the there should be a notice of substantial completion that the building is ready for occupancy Sept. 24.

Then, it will be inspected by the State Fire Marshal. Once the fire marshal signs off, the installation of antennae, phones, radios and other electronics can begin but that could be a lengthy process. That will require coordination by the dispatchers and testing of the systems.

The electronic system for the dispatch is recessed with wiring in the floor. The center will “piggy-back” with Ascension Parish to purchase dispatch furniture that will save time and money. Another result of the delay is that the board cannot receive more money from the State until the substantial completion certificate is granted.

That funding was expected in June. Commission president and Police Chief Micky Dove was vocal about the delays. “It’s one delay and one excuse after another. It’s time to move forward.” He said he was embarrassed and frustrated by the delays. “Is there anything the board can do to expedite it,” Dove asked. There was no reply from the other board members.

9-1-1 Director Willis Carter referred Dove to the board’s attorney, Mark Begnaud, who said he would prefer to talk to board members individually rather than in an open meeting. Among highlights of the director’s report are: •The budget process will begin this month. •NATCOM furniture is scheduled to arrive early in October at a cost of approximately $40,000 with the state scheduled to pay approximately $29,000. •Parish Government Human Resources Director Cathy Creamer will conduct Ethics Administration training for board members. Present in addition to Carter and Dove were board members Larry Atteridge, John Nicholas, Mary Jones, Jack McCain Jr., John Wynn, Rick Nowlin and Chris Paige . Sheriff Victor Jones Jr. was not at the meeting.