DOBSON —County officials say that the transition to a new engineering firm is complete, but more work must be done before shovels will start getting dirty.
Contacted Thursday, County Manager Chris Knopf said the necessary documents from the county’s former firm — Hobbs Upchurch & Associates — have been delivered, but the county’s new firm needs to review them and complete some additional work.
“We received the release from Hobbs Upchurch, and the new firm, Adams Heath, is currently working on a new project schedule and new project costs that include the new gravity-based system at the two schools,” he said.
“Right now, we’re just waiting on them to get back to us so the board (of county commissioners) can review it and decide on the next step,” Knopf added.
At issue is when design and permitting can be completed on the $4.5 million combined gravity and force-main system.
Hobbs Upchurch came under fire in the county following a break-up at the firm that resulted in the county’s principle engineer and grant writer leaving the company over the past few months.
Following weeks of trying to determine the next move, Knopf said he was prepared to recommend the board choose another engineer to get the project back on track.
The problem, Knopf told the commissioners during their last meeting, is that the former firm had possession of the work completed to date, documents and drawings needed by Adams Heath.
Earlier this month, the county received copies of the work completed by Hobbs Upchurch on the Interstates Sewer Collection System and the force main connection to the city of Mount Airy, but the release that allows another firm to work on the project was not included.
With the receipt of the release, the county is free to begin new engineering work that will include the gravity-fed system requested by Mount Airy, which has pledged $1 million to the project with the stipulation that the gravity system be used near Gentry Middle School and North Surry High School.
“The primary task initially will be to develop a new project scope that will include the proposed new gravity lines and the available funding to date,” he said. “(Adams Heath will) also be responsible for designing the new gravity system to be located in the vicinity of Gentry Middle and North Surry schools as well as securing (multiple) permits.”
“Once that work is put together, we’re planning on scheduling another meeting with Mount Airy to review and update everyone on where we’ve come since our last meeting,” Knopf said.
With the receipt of the release, Knopf said things are falling into place on the much-anticipated project.
“We’ve basically put together everything at this point that we felt like we needed, with the release being our biggest piece of the puzzle,” he said.
But that doesn’t mean a little more time isn’t needed.
“It’s not expected to take too long, but we can’t put an exact time frame on it at this point,” the county manager said. “I’d like to think that within the next couple of weeks we’ll know more.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.