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Senior Center dispute continues, meeting set for Thursday

The first of a series of weekly Senior Center construction progress meetings recently approved by the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen will be held Thursday, April 23, at 9 a.m. at Town Hall. And while at press time, it appears that all interested parties will be in attendance, it is by no means a sure thing.
“This is a very frustrating situation,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe said late last week. “The reaction we have received to our board action Monday night (from Rainey Contracting) is to engage in some counterproductive activity that sends a signal that the contractor doesn’t understand how serious we are in resolving the situation.”
During the April 13 meeting, town representatives criticized Rainey Contracting for construction practices that have delayed the completion of the new Senior Center. Scott Rainey had originally indicated he would attend the board meeting, but a scheduling conflict kept him away.
Board members agreed that weekly meetings, attended by the contractor, were necessary to keep the project on track and voted in support of the plan. Town Administrator Bob Browning was also told to work with Rural Development to see what the town’s options were if the relationship with Rainey could not move forward.
By Wednesday, Rainey had fired back with two additional project charges.
One was for $2,117.56 per meeting to attend the weekly progress meetings that Rainey maintains were not part of the original contract. The second charge was for more than $20,000 to cover what the contractor indicates were delays incurred when the town insisted that interior work would have to wait until the metal roof was successfully installed.
“I’ve been in construction a long time and never in my life has it occurred to me to begin insulating and sheetrocking a building prior to the roof going on,” Wolfe said. “Had we allowed him to go ahead and insulate and sheetrock, we would have had a disaster. We don’t owe him a dime.”
Rainey, on the other hand, maintains that the construction practices he uses are sound, and it was the mayor’s demands that may have slowed the project down.
“We’ve put up a lot of projects in a lot of different states,” Rainey said Monday, citing as one example the Ashley River Tower in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was able to successfully work on both drywall and roofing simultaneously. “I call it my means and method. It is the way I was trained.”
Rainey also stressed that the items he believes responsible for much of the delay were those out of his control.
“We were supposed to start the project in the fall (of 2013), but the government shutdown delayed our starting on it until January,” Rainey said. “The next blow was that 2014 was the second wettest year in recorded history.”
After reconsidering the issue, Rainey said that he does plan on being in attendance at the Thursday meeting. As for the $20,000 charge for delays, he believes that is a legitimate charge.
“We’ll see,” Rainey said. “I’m still leaving that on the table for sure.”
Town officials said that letters of reply have already been sent to Rainey from Project Manager C.W. Parker with Ken Ross Architects indicating that neither charges are legitimate. Project meetings, Parker wrote in his letter, are contractually required “when deemed advisable by the designer.”
And requirements for the installation of the gypsum board called for a total envelope enclosure, something that would have been negated had Rainey been able to put up a temporary cover.
“My hope is that the contractor wakes up and that we both have a mutual interest in completing this project in the best manner possible,” Wolfe said. “There is no reason we can’t work together to get this project done. We’re here to help them successfully complete the project.
But, Wolfe stressed, “it’s our job to stand up for our interests.”
According to Rainey, their part of the construction process should be complete by early June, though he said he has doubts about whether the town will have its projects complete as well.
Still, he, too, said he hopes they will also be able to work together.
“Nobody wants this done faster than we do,” Rainey said. “We want to finish it with the town. I think it’s all going to work out, get smoothed over. We agree that things can be done faster. We’re not perfect. We want to work with the town.”