City sets street project start date next month

Kevin Farr,
The Bryan County News
A segment is shown of one of the 30 streets in Durant that will be included in a resurfacing project scheduled to begin July 20. The project is expected to take about 45 days to complete.

A much-awaited street project, which will include the resurfacing of 30 different streets across Durant, moved closer to fruition when the City Council accepted a project bid at its special meeting last week.

The bid for $1,798,665 from J&L Paving LLC out of Paris, Texas, came in more than $200,000 below the $2 million-plus that was originally budgeted by the council.

The project has a planned starting date of July 20 and a listed timeline of approximately 45 days.

“We had at least four plan holders and two bidders on project,” Public Works Director Marty Cook told the council. “This is the best bid not only because it’s a little cheaper but also has a promise to finish in quicker time frame. The difference in cost is another possible block or two of resurfacing somewhere.

“Obviously the weather plays a factor, but they have a 45-day completion window set right now. We gave them specifications for the streets and exactly what we required. That included certain type of asphalt, ODOT standards and the promise our guys (street department superintendent) would inspect.”

Councilman Jerry Tomlinson asked if there would be a penalty if the group goes over the 45 days. Cook stated no, but added that a lot of the streets are rather small sections and should be able to be finished fairly quickly. He also stated that J&L Paving had done very good work for several other cities contacted.

In addition, Councilman Mike Morris wanted to know if anything could be done to keep loaded gravel trucks from tearing up interior city streets. Currently, the city does not have specified truck routes, but those could be explored at a later time.

The City Council also had a proclamation signed by Mayor Oden Grube that recognized Roma’s Italian Restaurant for its service to the community, including a recent fundraiser for four teens killed in an automobile accident.

The restaurant served more than 600 customers that day and donated approximately $20,000 to the families of the teens.

“We all know how much they have done for Durant community and (are) very proud to have them,” Grube announced.

A revised personnel manual was also adopted by the council after extensive work by Human Resource Specialist Kari Jones, along with a committee of administrative department heads of the police, fire, and public works departments.

The previous personnel manual was created in 2005 and had a plethora of addendums over the past 15 years, making the language difficult to follow at times.

The committee went over the manual policy by policy and made substantial changes in vacation, sick, holiday and overtime pay. They also revised some external policies including the drug and alcohol policy and harassment and discrimination policies and also added bereavement, social media, computer systems and electronic communications sections.

The revised manual was then approved by the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group and City Manager John Dean before receiving the council’s unanimous approval. The motion will be effective July 1.

Several items were discussed concerning the waste water treatment plant, including information from Allan Brooks of the Public Finance Law Group in Oklahoma, concerning a loan that was approved by the council early this year.

The total of that loan ended up being $12,935,000 and is set to mature in September 2041, keeping in term with the sales tax.

Brooks told the council that the fixed interest rate on the loan turned out to be 1.70 percent, which was considerably lower than initially expected.

“All of that amount is relative to the waste water treatment plant, which needs a major upgrade,” Dean said. “It will allow for refurbish and expansion. We will go from being able to run through 3.6 million gallons a day to about 5.0 million.”

The council was also informed the city is one of 18 statewide eligible for a small community block grant, for which the commerce department allocates funding. The amount of that was $152,222 and will also go toward the treatment plant.

A professional services agreement was also approved with Wall Engineering in the amount of $309,985 to provide technical support in the water treatment plant improvements.

In the Airport Authority section of the meeting, the council voted to close out documents for the runway extension project.

They were also told that the city will need to switch fuel vendors for the airport and bids will open on July 9. The estimated time for installation is four to six months after compliance issues are all squared away.

Shell Corporation is the only offer it has for a temporary truck in the meantime, which would make current rewards programs from the previous vendor unavailable.

The city also received a $69,000 CARES grant from the FFA, which will go toward fuel, staff and operational costs.