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Hoar Construction Begins Biggest Ever Job in Cherokee Co.

Fri September 15, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Maybelle G. Cagle

Hoar Construction LLC’s program management office has been selected to manage construction of the $22 million Gadsden State Cherokee project for Gadsden State Community College in Centre, AL.

The state-funded campus will be located on an approximately 46-acre (18.8 ha) site along Highway 9 in Cherokee County at 801 Cedar Bluff Rd.

“The project is in a mostly rural area of Alabama and is the largest construction project ever in this county,” said Hoar Project Manager Dan Elkins.

Construction of the initial phase is expected to be completed 18 to 20 months following the Aug. 3 groundbreaking. Buildings include a two-story academic facility, a multi-functional arena with a seating capacity for 2,000 people, a 300-seat hospitality/meeting room and office space for the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.

The academic facility will include classroom instruction in general education and nursing courses; house student services and a library; and provide office space for workforce and economic development offices.

A theater is included in architectural renderings, but has not yet been approved for construction. The architectural firm is Jenkins, Munroe and Jenkins of Anniston, AL.

Hoar Program Management, a division of Hoar Construction, which is headquartered in Birmingham, manages a range of projects for a variety of clients. It manages more than $300 million in construction projects annually.

“As construction manager, we eliminate having one primary contractor on the project and the owner contracts directly with contractors who would normally serve as subcontractors to the prime contractor,” said Elkins, who is overseeing the project.

He added, “Since the ’traditional subcontractors’ now have a contract directly with the owner, the owner saves the mark-up on those contracts normally assessed by the prime general contractor. In the traditional business of contracting, especially on public bid projects, if the owner finds himself with a less than desirable performing prime general, he was pretty much at the mercy of that single contractor.”

Under a construction manager, the owner has the ability to manage all aspects of the work with its assistance to ensure the owner gets a quality project, he said.

Hoar oversees all the contract administration and construction of the project and has full-time project superintendent on site to oversee the general construction on a day to day basis.

“We have a few other projects for the post secondary system and were selected to serve on this particular project,” said Elkins.

Hoar has been involved in the project from the beginning of the planning stages.

“This also helps ensure the architect’s design is practical and within the budget established by the owner,” he said.

He compared construction management to the checks and balances system among the government’s three branches.

Preparing the Land

The site work contractor is Waites Construction of Talladega, AL.

“The site work package includes preparation of the site, taking everything to subgrade and getting the building pad ready. It also includes a storm sewer system, detention ponds and water supply,” Elkins said.

Cole Waites of Waites Construction said the firm is preparing approximately 18 acres (7.3 ha) of the site, on which it will move 80,000 cu. yds. (61,000 cu m) of dirt and top soil. The top soil will be reused in areas such as detention ponds or behind the curb line.

“It’s a common everyday good project. We have 10 to 12 people working on it,” Waites said.

According to Waites, the dirt at the site is mostly a mixture of clay and chert.

He said the $1 million sitework contract also involves erosion control and water line relocation. An existing water line that had served a recreational facility will be replaced with a 6-in. (15 cm) water line that will serve both facilities.

“This project has an extensive amount of grade changes, because of the different buildings that are being proposed. This project basically has four different grade levels,” Waites said.

Waites started the project Aug. 17 and completed approximately 25 percent of the earthwork required on the project within the first few weeks.

The company’s heavy equipment at the site includes: Caterpillar D4H, D9N, D8N and D8K dozers; Komatsu D65EX and D39P dozers; Cat 631 scrapers; Komatsu PC 400 trackhoes; a Ditch Witch SK300 skid steer with grapple; Cat 140H motorgraders; and Dynapac rollers.

Waites said the company has a good relationship for parts and service with Thompson CAT, based in Birmingham, AL, and Tractor & Equipment Co.’s branch in Oxford, AL.

“We have our own mechanics who complete 90 percent of our equipment repairs,” he added.

The company is a family owned and operated business founded in 1976. The company is owned and operated by brothers Dan and John Waites.

Elkins said there are always inherent challenges with a project this size, such as the coordination of work among the different trades and the unknowns that tend to come with dirt work.

A house at the site, which was formerly home to the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, was given to the local Child Advocacy Center and moved before site work began.

Elkins said bids for the general trade contractor for the project will be received in September. He noted several more packages will be bid in late September including electrical, HVAC, plumbing, asphalt paving, landscaping, fire protection and arena seating.

The project in Centre came in response to a request from the community “to help with providing more educational opportunity to help with workforce development,” said John Blue II, a college vice president.

He said the project in terms of cost is the largest for Cherokee County.

“GSCC currently uses a commercial storefront as its instructional site in Cherokee County. The new facility will provide more classes and services to the community through the college and the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce,” added Blue.

Land for the project was donated by the city of Centre. The Cherokee County Commission has committed $250,000 to site preparation as well as $100,000 annually for 20 years for debt service.

Some of the county’s municipalities have pledged long-term funds to help reduce the $12.2 million it will take to complete the facility. CEG

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