Saturday, May 26, 2018
News Roundup

Contractor says Hernando Beach Channel dredge is finished

BROOKSVILLE — Seventeen years in the making — and contorted by every form of financial, environmental, legal and procedural hurdle imaginable — the snake-bit Hernando Beach Channel dredge on Tuesday ground to what the contractor says was a successful conclusion.

The work had to be done by the end of January or contractor BCPeabody would have faced $5,000 a day in fines for missing its deadline.

"We're done,'' Robert Carpenter, chief executive officer for the company, said Tuesday afternoon, hours after the last excavator stopped digging in the channel. "I am elated.''

While Carpenter said his company had fulfilled the contract requirements, digging the channel 6 feet deep and 60 feet wide for 3 miles, the official stamp of approval and waiver of any penalties will not come until later this week.

That's when an independent surveyor will use sonar to make sure no high spots were left behind.

Since Dec. 31, when "substantial completion" was declared, the dredging company has been going back over areas where there might have been places that were not yet 6 feet deep. Carpenter called the recent work more "surgical,'' in that only about 300 cubic yards of spoil material were pulled from the channel during the past week, compared to the total of 80,000 cubic yards that were removed over the course of the operation.

"That's a lot of fill,'' he said, noting that the county can now use the material as fill in some types of projects.

The fill is stored in settling ponds that were built at the beginning of the project on the site of the county's old wastewater treatment plant along Shoal Line Boulevard.

Activity in the channel and surrounding canals Tuesday included bringing in barges, cleaning them off, preparing some equipment for transport and other pieces beginning to head into the Gulf of Mexico toward home ports.

"We're delighted to finish a very difficult job, no doubt about it. In the end, we did what we said we were going to do,'' said Carpenter, whose company had never done a dredge before this one. "This was about as hard as it can get.''

Carpenter said his work crews had been dredging around the clock since the end of July, including on Thanksgiving and Christmas, to get the work done by the deadline.

"At a certain point, it becomes a matter of personal pride,'' he said.

Along the way, BCPeabody had to change dredging methods, alter the state permit, deal with equipment failures, face a fine for a permit violation and find a way to catch up after falling well behind schedule.

For a first effort, Carpenter said, "I don't think there is anything more that the dredging world can throw at us that we didn't face on this project.''

Carpenter and top company officials are all ex-military personnel, and they called the dredge their "mission'' throughout the challenges. He said their collective experiences helped them push through the challenges.

"In the military, you don't choose your assignments, and whatever your assignment you almost certainly never did it before,'' Carpenter said. "You just have to persevere and get it done because people are depending on you.''

Some cleanup in the spoils unloading area and restoration of nearby lots is still planned for the next few days, Carpenter said.

He also said that the ongoing disputes over damages caused by dredging equipment at several waterfront properties have been sent to his insurance company. He said he believes some of the homeowners are asking for more than what was actually damaged.

County officials have said that they will not release the remaining dollars on BCPeabody's $8.7 million contract until they are comfortable that all of the outstanding issues are settled.

On Tuesday, calls to Susan Goebel, the county's environmental services director, who has been in charge of the dredge, were not returned. Instead, she sent out a message through the county's community relations office.

"Staff will be assessing the project status tomorrow (Wednesday). Although the deadline for completion is today (Tuesday), there is certain data (surveys) that will need to be reviewed to determine if the dredge work is complete,'' Goebel wrote. "A media release will be issued before the end of the week.''

For Carpenter and his crew, when the last barge is heading home and the last excavator has been packed up, a much-belated holiday party is planned.

"It's going to be a very good party,'' he said.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Comments
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

I may have cracked the code. Found a way to sell doing the right thing. Discovered a method of persuasion in certain matters of fairness, conscience and the greater good.Like giving our fellow Americans a second chance.When morality-based arguments d...
Published: 05/26/18
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 10 hours ago
In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

TAMPA — Michael Bratt told a story.He said that Hernando County sheriff’s deputies attacked him in his home early one morning eight years ago, beat him severely on his front lawn, and continued the assault as they took him to a hospital.But another s...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 10 hours ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Published: 05/25/18