Stanly commissioners remove Endy budget amendment from agenda citing questions

The Stanly County Board of Commissioners pulled an item from its agenda at Monday’s meeting regarding the Stanly County Schools construction project at Endy Elementary.

Before and during a work session Monday, commissioners contacted Stanly County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Dennis by phone about having a representative attend the meeting.

Listed on the agenda was an item for a budget amendment to fund a classroom addition project at Endy. The Stanly County Board of Education, in a recent meeting, awarded the contract to Hoss Construction for $4.109 million, $260,000 more than the lowest bid from HM Kern ($3.848 million).

According to information in the agenda packet, Dennis said Kern withdrew its bid, meaning the next lowest contractor, J.M. Cope Construction, is the next lowest bid ($3.982 million).

Jason Kepley from H.M. Kern said by phone this week the company has sent a letter to SCS confirming the withdrawal of its bid.

County Manager Andy Lucas said in the work session he had reached out to Dennis regarding how long the bids would be valid as well as to request for SCS to have a representative at the board’s regular hearing minutes later.

“He said he spoke to his architect and lawyer; it’s 30 days and needs to be approved today,” Lucas said about a phone call 4 p.m. Monday he had with Dennis.

Lucas said Dennis asserted via text later the Endy project “has board approval” and added “holding up this process could be detrimental to the timely completion of the project.”

Lucas said J.M. Cope will hold the bid until the next SCS board meeting scheduled for April 10.

Commissioner Brandon King said SCS “knows they are doing something that’s not right. They’re hiding something because I asked for the last 10 bids that came back and which bids we took. If they’re going to be transparent with the people, now’s the chance to be transparent.”

One reason no one was able to speak to the commissioners, according to Commissioner Trent Hatley, was attorney/client privilege. When asked, Lucas said that could be if SCS had “got into a legal issue” with Kern.

Chairman Bill Lawhon said Lucas should not “take the heat” on the issue, adding, “that’s why we need somebody from the schools to be here to make a presentation.”

During the regular meeting, King said commissioners “had no problem spending this money as long as we know it’s being spent responsibly.”

Commissioner Peter Asciutto said the board has “a lot of questions as to what happened, why it happened and how it happened.”

The Stanly News & Press has reached out to SCS and Dennis for comment on the situation.