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County awards contract for courthouse elevator

The new elevator at the Chaves County Courthouse will be built in the southeast section of the building, near handicapped parking. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

County staff plan for a new elevator to be finished at the Chaves County Courthouse by the last quarter of 2020.

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to award the construction contract to Waide Construction Co. Inc. of Roswell, the low bidder. Its bid was $594,641, which includes tax.

Many people have asked the county for an elevator during the past few years, and some have complained publicly to the news media and government officials about the difficulty that people can experience using the only other publicly accessible ways to the courthouse main entrance, which fronts 400 N. Virginia Ave. The current options are 22 stairs or a winding ramp, both of which are uncovered, exposing people to the weather.

While people who need assistance also can call courthouse staff for help, the county has long realized that an elevator was what was needed. In fact, the county originally wanted an elevator when it did the courthouse renovations in 2005, but was told by the state that a ramp was required. Because the county could not afford both, it built the ramp.

“We have really pushed to prioritize this project,” said Bill Williams, Public Services director for Chaves County. “They (commissioners) also were instrumental in seeing this pushed as hard as we could to get funding and get it going.”

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Two companies submitted qualified bids, Waide Construction and Mick Rich Contractors of Albuquerque, which bid $712,131. The low bid was recommended to county staff and commissioners by the project architect, Hal Barnett of ASA Architects of Roswell. The New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration still must review and approve the construction contract.

Williams said that a pre-construction meeting is scheduled for March 24, and that construction should begin shortly after that.

He added that the project is costing about $168,758 more than what was estimated when construction documents and an “opinion of probable costs” were submitted in 2016, so commissioners also approved using county funds to cover the additional costs.

Williams said that it took four years to obtain the necessary funding. The state Legislature provided $221,367 in capital outlay funding. A Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided $204,516.

During those four years, materials and labor costs have increased, and construction companies are busier than before due to the oil and gas activity in southeastern New Mexico and the building needs that have accompanied the boom.

The elevator will be built at the southeast corner of the courthouse building. It is a full-size elevator meant to hold approximately 10 people. People will enter a temperature-controlled vestibule to the elevator, which will open onto an enclosed walkway at the second level of the courthouse. After exiting the walkway, people will be at a landing at the top of the stairs outside the courthouse doors, but that area does have overhead covering.

Williams said the contractors will use a portion of the parking lot across the street for their equipment and materials and they will use a portion of the parking lot near the elevator construction site, but they are not expected to impact other areas of the courthouse. The ramp will not be affected, he said.

Williams said he appreciated the efforts of legislators, the agencies and people who worked on the Community Development Block Grant, and state officials.

“We are just really thankful that everybody worked so hard, and saw the need we have to provide an elevator for our community,” he said. “Just glad it is coming to fruition.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.