Thursday, November 16, 2017



The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) has a long memory.

That memory came to the fore yesterday at the regular Wednesday meeting (1:30 p.m. at the Commissioners' office complex in the Stark County Office Building) of the commissioners.

The prompt?

In the ensuing commissioners discussing of the requested led by board president Janet Creighton, less-than-a-year-on-the-job commissioner Bill Smith relayed to attendees at the meeting that he had personally investigated the reasons for the change request and came away with an assessment that in the interests of total safety to any person working with the generator and in doing the job correctly the first time, he recommended that his fellow commissioners (Creighton and Regula) join him in voting to approve the Horn Engineering request. And they did.

So why would a "change order request" be a hot topic for a SCPR blog?

For the full story go back to a July 20, 2107 blog (LINK) regarding the commissioners' considering approving another contract on the IT Center.

A core point in a summary of  July 19th commissioners meeting is an alert issued by Commissioner Smith that he had information to the effect that N.L. Construction had a history of bidding low on government contracts but then made prolific use of "change orders" to in Smith's words "live on."

Here is a repeat of the SCPR video of Smith speaking on the need to watch N.L. closely and Auditor Alan Harold embracing of Commissioner Smith's admonition:

A point of emphasis:  N.L had underbid the expected $440,000 cost of the project by nearly $73,000.

Well, guess what happened recently?

You've got it.

A "change order" came flying into the commissioners for some $4,000 in increase expense to N.L. Construction for a change ALREADY DONE!

This is to be contrasted with the Horning request being submitted to commissioners BEFORE the work was undertaken.

And get this.

Stark County auditor Alan Harold who has a track record of being stingy of paying out county money where he thinks (e.g. Gary Zeigler matter bonding matter LINK) all is not right with any requested payment was in the July 19, 2017 meeting in which the commissioners informed by Commissioner Smith's concern let it be known that N.L. Construction would be under scrutiny on any change order requests.

Harold vowed (see above video) to be part of vetting any N.L. Construction change requests.


Amazing!!! no?

The SCPR, in light of the Horning agenda item—after the meeting ended—initiated questioning of Commissioner Smith on whether or not there had been any change order requests by N.L. Construction.



So what follows is a video SCPR question by question examination of Commissioner Smith on the matter.
  • NOTE:  The other questioner is Robert Wang a reporter with The Canton Repository

Harold was not at yesterday's meeting.

Accordingly, the SCPR has contacted him for a response to the unanswered questions that Commissioner Smith in the video would require questioning of Harold to get the answers to.

The Report has contacted Harold on this matter and here is his response:

Alan C. Harold <>  Today at 9:26 AM
To:  Alan C. Harold  Brant A. Luther  Martin Olson

Martin, thanks for the note.  I'm out today at a conference, and I believe Brant is out today, too.  I'll have Angie gather the documents related to the change orders today and get them to you tomorrow when I am back.  Not speaking for Brant, but I don't believe they have anything different than what I will provide.  All documents for this project come through me for eventual presentation to the Board.

The project is moving along and is back on track after the first change order was approved last month.  The initial change order in the $64k range came as a result of conversations with the architect and contractor.  In large part it involved changes to the types of doors proposed and, as Commissioner Smith stated, Brant and I walked through the site and came to resolution on the changes that would move forward.  I want to be clear - this was not a "give and take" negotiation between Brant/Commissioners/me - where I wanted X and they said they would agree to Y.  There were a host of issues presented after construction started, I asked for a price, the price was too high, and we collectively found a way to make things work that met my vision and kept the costs in line.  This change was less than 4% of the contract total and still well within the overall budget for the project.


Moreover, the SCPR has made public records requests of the commissioners' office and the auditor's office to provide more of the details of the progression of the N.L. Construction change request in terms of:
  • when it was generated,
  • it's size,
  • to the degree that it was granted,
  • the rational supporting any approvals, et cetera
Check back to this blog throughout the day for updates on the details of how the auditor and the commissioners have dealt from beginning to end on the N.L. Construction change order request.

It should be encouraging to Stark Countians that the current board of commissioners seem to be exercising "due diligence" in protecting the public purse from inappropriate expenditures.

The Stark County Political Report is committed to keeping government officials accountable to the tax paying public.

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