Will they or won’t they?
That’s the question being faced by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners at the board’s Thursday, Aug. 6 meeting. Namely, the board will decide whether or not to move forward on several repair and renovation projects that were put on hold in July after the board’s three African-American commissioners raised questions about the low amount of minority participation on the projects.
Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, one of the African-Americans on the Board of Commissioners, said this week that, if the commissioners don’t get good answers from the construction companies handling the projects, then the county should not proceed as planned.
Among other work, the projects in High Point include building structure repair and heating and cooling system replacement. Some work will be at the Guilford County Courthouse in High Point with other jobs at the problem-filled county building at 325 E. Russell Ave. that serves as the High Point social services office as well as the tax and register of deeds office in that city.
At the board’s last meeting in mid-July, Alston grilled county facilities and Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) Division staff over the lack of adequate participation of minority businesses. The board was scheduled to approve those projects at the meeting last month, however, the commissioners voted to put the projects on hold in order to get more information.
On Monday, August. 3, Alston said that, after talking with the owners of some black-owned firms that were passed over – or not even considered for subcontracting jobs by the winning bidder – he has even more questions than he did last month. He said some conversations have led him to believe that the county has been misled by the a winning construction firm in the bid process. He said that, if that turns out to be the case, the winning bid should be thrown out since it did not meet contract specifications laid out by the county.
The discussion should make for an interesting one on August 6 since some other commissioners say they feel that the projects need to move forward and feel that county staff has already bent over backwards to try and get more MWBE participation in the projects.