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Jonesborough severs ties with Rainey

Rainey Contracting is no longer in charge of the new Jonesborough Senior Center.
At an emergency meeting called by the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen Sunday, board members voted unanimously to declare Rainey Contracting LLC in default of contract and terminate the company from the project.
“This has been a long, torturous road for us,” Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said at the Aug. 23 meeting. “We’re now in the third year of building this Senior Center. And there is ample evidence that the contractor isn’t proceeding in an efficient manner.”
Scott Rainey, though advised of the meeting, was not in attendance.
Dissatisfaction in Rainey Contracting’s performance had been simmering for months as town officials dealt with what they cited as constant examples of faulty work and inadequate supervision.
“The further we got into the project, the less optimistic I was that we’d ever finish with Rainey in charge,” Wolfe said. “The whole deal about (the contractor) wanting to insulate and sheetrock the building before you put the roof on really concerned me. That’s a big no-no in the business I’m in, and I don’t care how good a job you do waterproofing that structure, you were setting yourself up for some major problems.”
On Aug. 5, Westfield Insurance, the project’s bonding company, took over financial dealings within the project, advising the town to turn all financial matters including remittances, checks and payment requests to Westfield for handling, as charges surfaced that Rainey had not been paying his subcontractors.
Yet adequate supervision remained a concern, according to Town Administrator Bob Browning, to the point that he approached Rainey on Aug. 20 with the draft of a letter prepared to be sent to Westfield charging breach of contract if Rainey did not seek supervisory assistance from Westfield on the project.
That assistance was sought by Rainey, and temporarily granted — until Westfield officials received a report back from their affiliate, Landmark Construction, detailing the status of the project.
At that time, Browning said, Westfield withdrew the offer of voluntary supervision, notifying the town by email at 5:12 p.m. on Aug. 21 — and presented the town with the option of continuing on with the project as is, with Westfield overseeing financial matters but Rainey still in place as general contractor, or Jonesborough could remove Rainey from the project, at which point Westfield would step in to finish the center as per the bonding agreement, most likely with the assistance of Landmark.
In this instance, the town was left with little choice, Browning said.
“We did everything possible to allow this to be completed as planned,” Browning said.
The board seemed in little doubt on the night’s decision.
“I think we were more than patient,” Alderman Chuck Vest said. “When it first came up, it was a lack of leadership on site (that was the issue.)” He believed that remained the issue at the end.
Alderman Terry Countermine agreed.
“Certainly it’s been frustrating, once it became obvious that it wasn’t going to be done on time and we had Mr. Rainey blaming us for the delays, which just wasn’t true,” Countermine said.
“I think we bent over backwards giving him a chance to finish it. Perhaps this should have been done earlier — hindsight is always 20/20 — but I know what we are doing tonight is the right thing.”
It may have also been just the right time, according to Town Attorney Jim Wheeler. Wheeler pointed out that in a contractual situation, as in the case with Rainey, taking action earlier isn’t always an option.
“The thing that I think a lot of people don’t realize is there’s a process and procedure within that contract to bring us to the point today,” Wheeler said. “It’s not a matter of just ‘snap,’ you make a decision.”
Questions over added costs at the center due to the delays have two answers, according to town staff and board members.
As far as construction costs are concerned, Browning said, those numbers remain the same.
“The contract hasn’t changed,” he said. “We’re not paying out any more money on the construction contract.”
Still, the mayor acknowledged, there has been a financial hit.
“Yes, there is a cost,” Wolfe said. “You figure in the trips for our building inspector; you’re paying Ken Ross a supplement each month for the additional inspections that have been required because of the lack of supervision. I’m sure that we’re paying more interest on the loan because we’re taking so long to complete the project.”
Add that to additional staff time required simply to keep the project moving along, and there is little doubt the town hasn’t emerged unscathed.
“But if you’re determined to have a good product when you finish, that’s one of the things you have to be willing to accept,” Wolfe said, stressing that quality was and will remain the guiding principal in project completion. “We just got to a breaking point.”
The town remains hopeful that Westfield, with Landmark’s assistance, will be able to take over the project quickly.
Browning said he had already been in conversation with Larry Calloway with Landmark, and had been informed that contacts with project subcontractors was proceeding well. In addition, key subcontractors areon the site continuing their work at the beginning of the week even as current contract details are ironed out.
Browning also said that he had received as of Aug. 25 the takeover agreement from Westfield and that had been turned over to the town attorney before signing.
While late October remains a very real possibility as the new completion date, Browning said, the earlier October date is still a possibility.