School district votes to pay contractor for sidewalk work

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 14, 2001

The Natchez-Adams School Board voted 3-2 Thursday to pay a contractor for a project that had been questioned for possible violation of state bid laws.

The project involved a new sidewalk and canopy intended to connect the district’s multipurpose building to the campus of Natchez High School – a frequently used path by students even on rainy days.

The sidewalk has been completed. The canopy has not.

Board members Camille Jackson and Don Marion voted against the payment and board members, Dr. Norris Edney, Craig Langnes and Kenneth Taylor voted in support of it.

The board had put off making a decision on the payment until the matter could be researched.

&uot;The district had to have a fact-finding to determine whether there was an intent to circumvent bid laws,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;Based on the best available information we had, we did not make that determination.&uot;

The board first began researching the matter after learning that Larry Haynes, the district’s building and grounds maintenance supervisor, violated procedure by dividing the project into two pieces each costing about $8,000.

The district requires all projects valued at more than $5,000 to be advertised for bids.

Haynes has called the incident a &uot;simple mistake&uot; on his part and says he did not intend to violate the law. He was reprimanded for the mistake and the district has put new procedures in place to prevent similar mistakes, said Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis, who said he felt comfortable with the board’s decision.

&uot;I feel confident that what they did was legal and I feel it was the right thing to do under the circumstances once the facts were known,&uot; he said.

Contractor Kenneth Jones completed the sidewalk but ceased work on the canopy when the board become aware that the project was not advertised for bids.

Now that the matter is resolved, district officials will soon decide what needs to be done to finish the project, Davis said.

&uot;We feel confident we’ll have that project finished by the time school starts so our boys and our girls won’t get wet as they travel from the high school to the multipurpose building,&uot; he said.