By Bob Balgemann

Timing was of the essence and with that in mind, city officials moved quickly to avoid additional bad weather and hired a company to repair the roof over the apparatus building at downtown Fire Station No. 1.

This story began in December when high winds damaged the roof over that portion of the historic station. The extent of the damage wasn’t known until a short time later, when heavy rainfall caused the roof to leak over firefighters’ quarters, and elsewhere on the upper level of the building.

Fire Chief Al Hyser followed with a report on the need for repairs to thwart further roof damage should the city experience more, severe weather conditions. But since his request wasn’t on the meeting agenda, it was pointed out that no action could be taken on hiring a company to effect needed repairs.

Hyser was back at the Jan. 10, 2022, Committee of the Whole meeting and reiterated information he had provided the month before. “I’m looking for a motion to carry on with the (improvement) project,” he said.

Alderman Dan Snow, chairing the meeting in the absence of Mayor Clint Morris, called for such a motion to approve a proposal from Freeport Industrial Roofing, in the amount of $31,145, to do the work.

The motion brought a question from City Attorney Mike Drella, who asked, “This is a new bid, right? It has not been bid out.”

“Yes, it’s a new bid,” the chief replied.

“Then I suggest that as a part of the motion there be a provision to waive the bidding procedures that would appear next week, separately on your agenda,” he said.

Alderman Tom Porter authored a motion to that effect, with a second from Alderman Sheryl Prather.

In discussion that followed, Alderman Ric Brereton said since the city still was waiting for information from its insurance provider, tabling action should be considered.

Drella said the city was negotiating with the insurance company, trying to get it to pay more of the claim for damages. “But the reality is with the condition of the roof, they (contractor) need to do the whole thing, not just patch it,” he continued. “So it’s been a question of whether we can get the insurance company to agree they should cover the whole roof, or just a patch job.”

Time to move

Snow focused on the urgency of getting the work done before more potentially damaging weather descends upon the city. “It can’t wait,” he said. “This is not like just planting trees, where we can hold off.”

“That’s correct,” Hyser said. “This is an emergency. If we have any extreme weather come in, we’ll probably have a lot of water damage inside your bedroom at Station 1.”

With there being no further comments or questions, the committee recommended in a unanimous voice vote to approve moving ahead with the proposal from Freeport Industrial Roofing.

The company did the work in the week that followed, with city council approving the $31,145 quote in two motions.

First, aldermen voted unanimously with three absent to waive the bidding procedure in order to have Freeport Industrial do the work without putting the project out to bid. Then there was another unanimous vote, to approve the amount of the bid, $31,145.

Before the vote there was brief discussion, with Morris saying he had communicated with the insurance company and learned the improvements might cost the city “significantly more than our insurance is going to contribute.”

Hyser provided an update at that point, saying he had just talked with the insurance company that day “and I believe about two-thirds of this cost will be paid by insurance. Two-thirds of this cost.”

“Great,” Morris said in response. “We did good then because they could have repaired the roof and we wouldn’t have had any guarantees. We were fortunate to get somebody to come out and replace that roof. Otherwise, we would have had a mess.”

A motion out of the Jan. 10 Committee of the Whole meeting to approve the $31,145 quote from Freeport Industrial Roofing was approved, 7-0, with three absent.

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