A local radio personality and former Republican candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives has raised questions about the contract to build the new Southern Pines Elementary School.

John Zumwalt, who hosts a talk show on 990AM WEEB, has called into question the process by which the contract to build the school was awarded. 

He claimed that Moore County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey and Moore County Schools Executive Officer for Operations John Birath were not being truthful when they said the low bidder for the schools had pulled out after a mathematical error.  

Zumwalt, in his on-air show, claimed that the “low-bidder” withdrew their bid, not because they were too low, but because they were told their bid was too high.

The bids were opened on February 26, 2019 with Clancy and Theys of Charlotte, the apparent low bidder, at $29.9 million, and Monteith Construction was the next apparent low bidder at $30.9 million.

On March 5, Birath and Grimesey, made an unscheduled presentation to the Moore County Commissioners citing the urgency of the matter.

In a presentation, the commissioners were informed that the low bidder had made a mathematical error in their bid and was withdrawing the bid.

The next low bidder had another bid pending and would need to know by 12:00 p.m. March 5 if they were going to be awarded the bid.

Stating the urgency of the matter, and his belief that rebidding the project would result in higher bids, Dr. Grimesey requested the commissioners approve an additional $2.68 million to cover the budget overrun, which the commissioners did.

At a subsequent meeting, the commissioners withdrew authorization citing both the will of the voters and the lack of time to adequately consider the matter, putting the onus back on the school board to fund the construction within the amount allocated by the bond.

Zumwalt received from Moore County Schools, through a Freedom of Information request, correspondence between Birath and Robert Hall, Vice President of Clancy and Theys, which he states challenges the veracity of that narrative.

Clancy & Theys were the “Low Bidder” that Grimesey was referring to when he met with the commissioners.

In a letter received March 5, Hall states that they had received a letter from Thomas W. Hughes, who is serving as the architect for the project, indicating that the bid was more than the funds available for the project.

The letter went on to state that the school board would be unable to award the contract at the bid price. Clancy and They responded they would not be able to complete the project within the available funds and that the bid should be deemed null and void.

Additionally, the letter continued that since the project was not going to be awarded at the bid price, the bid bond submitted was no longer applicable.

Additionally, Zumwalt raised questions about why the bid bond was refunded, why there was no mention of an error in the bid on March 13 and when the school board was informed of the bid being withdrawn.

Sandhills Sentinel has obtained the document John Zumwalt referred to in his radio broadcast and have posted it in this story and have reached out for more information.

Sandhills Sentinel has not been able to verify the information being presented independently, but this story will be updated as warranted.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Local News/Government Reporter Chris Prentice. 
   Contact him at chris@sandhillssentinel.com

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