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On opposite sides of the fence: Bitterness over bidding process causes stir in ECC

The fence in question surrounds East Carbon's Viking Park.

Sun Advocate reporter

A fence installed at Viking Park in East Carbon was the subject of a long debate at the East Carbon City council meeting on Tuesday night.

Stephen Manzanares, owner of Castle Country Fencing, went before the city council with questions about how the entire process revolving around the fence work was conducted.

The fencing was put in around Viking Park sometime in the month of October. Manzanares said the bidding process for the job was never advertised as he only heard about the job when he was called by East Carbon City maintenance worker Darwin Christensen, who was looking for another person.

When looking into possibly working on the project, the fencing work was originally said to be 550 feet, but was lowered to 250 feet before ending at 168 feet, Manzanares said.

The work was eventually done by Southeast Fencing. Manzanares said Southeast Fencing put the poles for the fence into the ground before everything was finalized, thereby getting the job outright. He also said the area was not blue staked to check for utilities before and during construction which is a state law.

Manzanares said he advised the city to put a stop work order on the project until further investigation, but the job was completed anyway.

Manzanares said Christensen told him in a conversation that he full authority to award all jobs and projects in the city. Christensen said the job was pre-approved by three council members and the mayor, according to Manzanares.

While he is awaiting to see the public records, Manzanares said he thought Castle Country Fencing was believed to be the lowest bidder. Councilman Darrell Valdez asked how he knew he was the lowest bidder for the fencing project. Manzanares said he didn't know for sure, but said he heard through the grape vine that Castle County Fencing was the lowest bidder.

City Attorney Jeremy Humes said that while Castle Country Fencing may have been the lowest bidder, that doesn't necessarily mean they are awarded the job automatically. He also asked Manzanares what he would like to see the city do about that particular fence or a change in the procedures in the future.

"It's the principle of the whole situation," Manzanares said noting he felt the city did not follow the correct procedures for a project like this.

During the meeting Christensen said the two companies, Castle Country Fencing and Southeast Fencing, were going back and forth on the issue, which was the cause for all of the arguing. City council members stopped Christensen from speaking any further and said the issue should be discussed during executive session.

Humes said there isn't much that can be done by the city now that the job has already been completed and has been paid for by the insurance company. Humes said that the city was apprised that there may have been problems in the bidding process and the city council will address that for all future projects. Councilman Valdez apologized for the confusion and said that the city council will make sure this doesn't happen again.

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