Sunday August 30th, 2015 6:41PM

Habersham awards bid for AgriScience Facility

By Rob Moore Reporter
CLARKESVILLE - Work could begin in about a month on the planned Habersham County School System AgriScience Facility.

The building, to be located on the campus of Habersham Central High School near Mt. Airy, will serve primarily as an educational facility.

The low bid was awarded to Higgins Construction of Cornelia during a called board of education meeting Thursday.

Higgins' bid was $738,800, with a 210-day completion once work commences.

"When Higgins Construction bid $738,800, I was just blown away," said Maintenance Director Denise Gunn. "That is a fabulous price - phenomenal!"

That amount may sound like a lot, but despite the bid tabulation sheet titling the project "New agricultural barn for Habersham Central High School", the facility is much more than that.

"It will be an agriscience laboratory," said Habersham County Board of Education Vice Chairman Gilbert Barrett. "Many of our surrounding counties have this, so this is something that Habersham County students have had the need for. Our program is growing. We have 1,281 students enrolled in vocational agriculture here in Habersham County, so we're excited about this center and looking for the program to continue to grow."

The state-of-the-art facility will include classroom and laboratory space, as well as room for a show arena and other school and community use.

"We're very excited about the project and the opportunity for kids here," Barrett said. "This center will allow us to add more career pathways to the vocational agriculture program, so we will have a veterinary science class where students will be able to do [hands-on] experiments with animals there, such as ultrasounding and several of the vet things.

"The good thing about this curriculum is first it's [hands-on] instruction, but it allows students to take science and math concepts and standards and incorporate it in a vocational learning environment," Barrett said.

Funding for the building will come from the school system's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 3 and the high school construction bonds.

Gunn said funding for the arena, tie outs, corrals, fencing and other show-related aspects will come from the community.

Barrett estimated those costs at $100,000 to $150,000, and said he anticipates the area's agricultural community will come forward with fundraising to help with those purchases. He added some funds already have been committed.

Other bidders for the facility and their bids included:

* Charles Black Construction of Gainesville/Cleveland at $888,886;

* Hamby Construction at $1,052,700;

* Kevin Price G.C. at $1,069,000; and

* BM & K at $1,200,000.

"There is really no discrepancy in any of them," Gunn said of what bids include. Each bidder was given specifics of the project and told to bid on that.

Gunn said three bidders gave a 180-day completion for the 17,600-square-foot building, while a fourth gave a 150-day turnaround.

Higgins, Gunn said, built in more time because it is uncertain whether the metal building the company will order will arrive in two months, or if it will take a full three months. In addition, Higgins will handle the various disciplines rather than bringing in subcontractors.

Anticipated bids were not received from Blake Rainwater & Associates, Bowen & Watson, Cooper & Company; Sam Jenkins Construction; and Phillips Brothers.
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