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Wed April 26, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

GULFPORT, MS (AP) Gulfport-based Necaise Brothers Construction will be awarded a contract worth as much as $150 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for debris cleanup from Hurricane Katrina, U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-MS, said.

Pickering said Necaise Brothers will be the prime contractor.

“For many months we have urged FEMA and the Corps of Engineers to abide by the Stafford Act which calls for preference to local contractors in disaster areas. I am pleased, after delays created by out-of-state contractors, and following legislation passed by the House and Senate, that the Corps of Engineers has moved forward and announced prime contracts to Mississippi companies,” Pickering said in a statement.

Pickering did not mention the out-of-state company by name, but AshBritt Inc. of Pompano Beach, FL, had protested the Corps decision to rebid the contract.

The Corps awarded a $500-million debris removal contract in September to AshBritt.

In December, the Corps announced it would rebid the debris removal work to Mississippi-based firms after there was harsh criticism that local firms were not getting federal recovery dollars.

The contract was supposed to be awarded by the end of January, but AshBritt appealed to the General Accounting Office.

On March 20, the appeal was denied, opening the door for Mississippi companies to pick up the rest of the work.

Pickering said giving in-state contractors prime contracts helps local economies recover and AshBritt’s protest only cost the state money.

Randy Perkins, president of AshBritt, told The Clarion-Ledger newspaper that rebidding the work was “politically motivated” and will make it more expensive and time-consuming.

“You don’t run a contractor out of the state when they’ve performed to the standards we have performed to and change your game plan,” Perkins said.

Pickering said he expected the out-of-state contractor to cooperate with Necaise Brother during the transition.

“Of the billions of dollars in federal prime contracts, out-of-state companies have received 95 percent of the funds — leaving only a nickel of every dollar for Mississippi top tier contractors,” Pickering said.

“These new contracts fit with the spirit of the Stafford Act, to not only rebuild communities, but to rebuild economies. I encourage the new contractor to continue this spirit and seek Mississippian subcontractors for additional work,” Pickering said.

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