Grapeland's water well project goes dry
Houston County Courier
By Jenna Duncan News
Grapeland will not move forward with construction of a water well, losing nearly half a million dollars in grant funds, after the bid for the project approved by City Council was dismissed on a technicality. The lowest bid reported incorrect figures and had to be dismissed on technicalities, City Superintendent Mike Dillow said. The bid, from Palestine Water Well Service, estimated costs at $353,452 for the project, with a $50,215 credit, leaving the balance for the project at $303,237. "It all came down to the bid being filled out incorrectly by the contractor," he said. On Wednesday, April 24 Dillow and Mayor George Pierson met with the project engineer and grant administrator and decided to cancel the project instead of rebidding it out to different contracting companies. Dillow learned of the discrepancy on the bid on Monday, April 15 and tried to salvage the project after speaking with the grant administrator. "I sent the grant administrator an email stating that we're unable to come up with the amount of funds that it's going to take to drill this well and we have to regretfully decline and give back the grant funds," Dillow said. "And he said, 'Don't do that.' And honestly, I don't want to do that." Initially, Dillow thought the city would go out for a second round of bids, as he said there was enough time left to have a two-week bidding period and complete the project. However, based on the estimated costs of the other bids the city received, the well would cost Grapeland more than $150,000 out of pocket. Before the bidding process began for the well, the council voted and approved constructing a test well to help lower the overall cost. This was $35,000, which the city is now responsible for paying. The entire project would have cost Grapeland $81,237 after the initial grant. Once the well was completed, the city would have received an additional $249,000 grant for a tank, piping and other necessities for the well. Once the Palestine Water Well Service bid was eliminated, the next lowest bid was $406,000, which would cost the city an additional $100,000 out of pocket. Because of the higher bid prices, the mayor and Dillow decided to not move forward with the project. "It's not something we can do responsibly and spend that kind of money right now," Dillow said.