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Commission Work Session Minutes – October 10, 2023 (Unapproved)

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10 OCTOBER 2023


County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe opened the meeting describing the purpose of the meeting, i.e., addressing OHM’s Schematic Design and Process, and noting it is a work session meeting only (no decisions to be made.)  The CE asked Commissioner Matt Rubelsky to offer a prayer and lead the pledge.  He then asked for a motion on the previous 2 October 2023 minutes provided by email and with a motion from Commissioner Tracy Wilburn, seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, the minutes were approved unanimously.  The CE then thanked Pulaski Mayor JJ Brindley for being present noting mutual interests, and asked if anyone else from the public wished to comment.  Being no comments, the CE then asked Mr. Harvey Schwager, Director of Architecture – OHM, to address the current activity, mentioning that there will need to be decisions in the November/January timeframe to move forward on courthouse repairs/modifications/and, or different uses of the courthouse.  Mr. Schwager provided a power point presentation, which will be provided to all commissioners later.


For this meeting he provided a recap of current activity, and described the overall process of developing and implementing a schematic design.  He described six phases, those being Programming (done previously for the county); Schematic Design – a high level look at what needs to be addressed and what is “kicked off” with this meeting and continuing throughout the day (he noted his team also in attendance, i.e. Matt McPhillips, project architect. Nathan Ware – Engineer, and Paula Hepp – Project Manager.); Schematic Design Development – where products such as drawings will be developed; Construction Documents; Bidding; and Construction Administration.


Mr. Schwager described the process such as the dependency on some decisions to other decisions, some decisions that stand alone, and the goal of avoiding spending dollars two times, given when decisions might be made.  Examples given included a decision on a new Justice Center which would impact the use of the courthouse and potential modifications.  However, he specifically called out the modifications needed first, those fundamental needs that should be done immediately.  Commissioner Erin Curry questioned why fire alarms were not included in those more pressing concerns, stating some of the modifications may not be done until a much later time, and a fire would be devastating.  She mentioned another county that had experienced such a fire, and the difficulty in that county regrouping.  Mr. Schwager mentioned some of the timelines showing that inclusion would be dependent on several other actions including needing additional staffing to monitor.  All of which would increase the cost and the continuing concern of construction costs increasing he noted.  Commissioner Shelly Goolsby mentioned her office had been checked by EMS, and asked what part they might play.  After much discussion however on what the county has already implemented and the use of 911 services (although not fully implemented), Mr. Schwager agreed fire alarm capability would be included in the first phase.  The CE also asked if the structural repairs on beams was included with Mr. Schwager saying they were included in the first phase look.  Several of the commissioners stated their concerns on making decisions without knowing the full costs, identifying a previous estimate of $10M/$11M for all, and wanting to know what has to be done, and then making their decisions.


Mr. Schwager discussed some of the problems in providing a reasonable total cost at this time, for example doing individual projects vs doing all projects, either under a construction manager’s authority.  He stressed finding the right person/contractor for that job, noting it needs to be someone who understands the market cost, Pulaski, and how to work with teams – noting it would require a specialist in those services.  Commissioner David Wamble said he had not heard much support for a new Justice Center (one of the major decisions that would be required) and directly asked the other commissioners on their thoughts/support.  Commissioner James Lathrop said he would need more information, but realizing the courthouse building is limited and if there is a growth in cases, then would need a different building.  Commissioner Tammy Mathis, whose experience is in a District Attorney’s office, commented on adding a 5th judge and also mentioned Maury County has also added a new justice center.  She discussed the problems in the courthouse in particular with place to consult for inmates.  Commissioner Evan Baddour as an attorney had a somewhat different approach, saying some days courthouse not used as much, and perhaps phasing of courts might be appropriate.  He mentioned the fifth Judge didn’t necessarily mean the workload had increased; the Judge had been needed for several years.


Mr. Schwager emphasized that the meeting is a kick off meeting for the schematic design, covered under the previously approved cost of up to $80K depending on hours required.  The CE stated that a kick-off meeting would normally be with 3 – 4 stakeholders, but the work session was scheduled in order to brief the entire Commission.  There will be issues that come out of schematic design and multiple decision points coming, which he said would be addressed in future meetings.  Decisions will have to bear in mind that this is not merely a 10-year plan but a 25 – 50-year plan, providing judicial system flexibility for the future but addressing the must haves for today.  Commissioner Erin Curry asked are there any new areas that OHM should include.  Mr. Schwager showed a moisture detection device and said, in using it, showed considerable moisture around all the courthouse.  He also mentioned the stoop if the exit door opens outward, then the steps would have to be redone to allow the door to open on a safer exit.  He mentioned the mortar between the stones, hardening and allowing the stones to grind against that mortar.  Commissioner Judy Pruett discussed the courthouse being the heart and soul of the county, and that they need to start taking care of it.


Mr. Schwager said by the end of the year there should be a decision on a construction manager.  Virtual technology was discussed in reference to a need for a new justice center vs being able to continue using the courthouse, was discussed, with Mr. Schwager saying any other thoughts let us know, we want to do what is right for the county.


The County Executive asked for any announcements and with one for the Agri-Park meeting on Friday, the meeting was adjourned.


Attendees:  Chair County Executive Graham Stowe, and Commissioners Joyce Woodard, Dr. James Lathrop, Erin Curry, Gayle Jones, Annelle Guthrie, David Adams, Joseph Sutton, Judy Pruett, Tammy Mathis, Terry Jones, Mathew Hopkins, Shelly Goolsby, Matt Rubelsky, Evan Baddour, David Wamble, Tracy Wilburn, and Roger Reedy.  OHM – Harvey Schwager, Matt McPhillips, Natham Ware, Paula Hepp.  Pulaski Mayor JJ Brindley, Bill Myers – EMS, and member of the Public.