Victoria County, Texas, Airport Gets $1.5 Million Grant

Victoria County has been cleared for a $1.5 million grant to refurbish the airport control tower and an official said that work could begin in a matter of weeks.

"I'm thinking that by the first week in February, we can get a contractor named and get started on the tower," Airport Manager Larry Blackwell said.

"I want to get this tower in place and get it going," he said. "I want to put that forth to the contractors. We want to get this project completed by October."

The Victoria County Commissioners Court voted Monday to advertise for bidders for the project. But Blackwell said the contractors will need time to look at the tower, to review the bid requirements and then to work up proposals and submit them to the commissioners court.

The tower, located at the Victoria Regional Airport, was built 50 years ago when the airfield was still a military base. The military pulled out without occupying the tower and the county never used the tower after it took over the operation.

Blackwell successfully applied for acceptance into the contract air traffic controller program. That means the federal government will pay for air traffic controllers to operate the tower, if Victoria County gets it into operating condition and equips it. That's what the $1.5 million Federal Aviation Grant will be used for.

"It's going to be two phases," Blackwell said. "We have the actual refurbishing of the building and then we have the equipment purchase and getting that installed in the tower."

In other business, the commissioners heard from two companies that thought they should be considered for a contract to build an imaging center at Citizens Medical Center.

The court announced last week its intent to award a $7.79 million contract to Don Krueger Construction Co. of Victoria for building the imaging center.

County Judge Don Pozzi said that was not the lowest of the seven bids received, but it is the "lowest and best" available bid. He said the architect, Bower Downing Partnership Inc. in Austin, recommended Krueger after reviewing the bids and looking at such factors as time to complete the work, the experience of the company and the experience of the project manager.

The companies with lower bids include Satterfield and Pontikes Construction Inc. of Houston, $7.75 million; Galaxy Buildings Inc. of San Antonio, $7.59 million; and Marshall Co. of Corpus Christi, $7.68 million.

Representatives from Marshall and Galaxy appeared before the court Monday.

"You have a responsibility to the taxpayers and the citizens of this county to save them money and build them a fine building," said Victoria attorney Howard Marek, who spoke on behalf of Galaxy.

"If we stay focused on that, I think we will make the right decision," he said. "You have an opportunity to save $200,000."

Don Boyd with Marshall said his company met the bid specifications and provided all of the required information. He said he believes that's why the 64-year-old company should get the contract.

"During those 64 years, we have never failed to complete a project," he said. "We have never been fired from a project."

Pozzi said after the meeting both companies made excellent presentations, but he wants more time to review the comments and ask questions. He also noted that the bids are good for a 90-day period that ends about Jan. 10.

"I certainly think we have an obligation to act within that 90-day period," Pozzi said. "I would have to check with legal counsel, but I would think if we did not act, we would be in a position where we may have to reject all bids and re-bid it. We may also look at alternate avenues that may exist."

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