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Attorney Hired To Draft Contract For New Jail

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY – Supervisors took another step in the direction of jail construction after hiring a contract attorney to draft the jail contract, a document that will be used to hire an architect for the project.
    Jackson attorney Ralph Germany was hired to draft an architectural contract in an unanimous vote during a recessed meeting last Friday. Germany works with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.
    But before they hired Germany, the board unhired an architect hired during the “first Monday” meeting held December 3.
    “Are we technically out of a contract now, G.G., did you agree to do that?” District 3 Supervisor Lee McMinn asked architect G.G. Ferguson, who has worked with the county for several years on the project.
    “I will do whatever the county wants, I was under the impression that  we were going to renegotiate the terms,” Ferguson answered.
    In the contract the county signed  with the architect on December 3, Ferguson would earn 7.89 percent of the total jail construction price, which is estimated to cost $3 million.
    “From my perspective, I think we would like to hire a construction attorney, an attorney who has the background and experience to prepare a contract for the county that we could use to solicit bids for architectural services,” McMinn responded.
    McMinn then motioned to hire Germany, an attorney recommended by Board Attorney John Crow.
    “We are not doing this to eliminate Mr. Ferguson because he will have an opportunity to bid,” Board President Tommy Vaughn said, adding that the new contract would help protect the county. “We felt like the bid process (to hire an architect) will be better for the people of the county,” Vaughn added.
    “Is it the intention of the board to bid out for price or put out selections for qualifications?” Ferguson asked.
    “Any and all, we want to try to prepare a contract, try to have some list of what we want in there and then solicit proposals,” McMinn answered.
    “This isn’t negotiating our contract, it is actually putting out proposals for other people to submit their qualifications?” Ferguson asked.
    “That is correct,” McMinn said.
    Ferguson reminded supervisors that a professional services contract cannot be bid by price, but by qualifications.    
    “If you want to set the price, that’s the board’s discretion,” Ferguson added.
    “Our intention is to seek proposals for architectural services, which we welcome yours,” Board Attorney John Crow answered Ferguson.
    “Is this going to save us some money?” District 5 Supervisors Frank Tillman asked.
    “Hopefully,” Vaughn answered.
    “It’s about the only way we can do it that’s fair.
    “We are not experts at all. That’s pretty evident when we were looking at the contract before, none of us knew what we were looking at. I will be the first to admit that,” McMinn continued.

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