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Embattled Hernando dredge project manager to stay on job

BROOKSVILLE — Under fire for his professional experience and his business and personal finances, Greg Jarque was offered an opportunity to walk away from his job as dredging project manager by County Administrator David Hamilton on Wednesday.

Jarque's response was that he wanted to stay and as the sun rose on Hernando Beach on Thursday, he was at the dredge site working to move the long-stalled project ahead, Hamilton said.

Officials were preparing contract details Thursday that would formalize the hiring of Jarque's Gritz Development and Construction firm to oversee the vexing project, which has dragged on for years. The contract would cost the county $152,500.

"Mr. Jarque has no intention of resigning,'' Hamilton said.

"I did meet with Mr. Jarque yesterday and (Transportation Services Director) Susan Goebel to give him the opportunity to reconsider, given that this is pulling his family and his business into the spotlight.''

Jarque's background, experience and finances were all part of the eight pages of concerns that County Commissioner Jeff Stabins submitted in his open letter to Hamilton earlier this week. Stabins wants a discussion by the commission Tuesday about whether Hamilton's record is good enough to keep him on the job.

Stabins also has criticized Hamilton's pick of Jarque saying that he is a "crony" of Hamilton's wife, Linda.

Jarque, who got his general contractor license in 2008, has never done a dredge before. He has served as manager of the project to build the training center and hurricane shelter at Arc Nature Coast, where Linda Hamilton has worked in fundraising.

Stabins also made an issue of Jarque's failure to pay thousands of dollars in fire assessments on his other business, Omni Circuits International, since a previously proposed subcontractor on the dredge was criticized because he had owed the county money.

Jarque has not responded to media requests to talk about those fire assessments and personal property taxes in arrears on the tax collector's website.

Hamilton said answers to those questions and Jarque's qualifications will be brought forward to the commission Tuesday.

"I recommended him because he has a record for bringing projects in ahead of time and on budget without change orders and that's exactly what he intends to do if the board approves his contract,'' Hamilton said.

He added that, currently, the dredge project is ahead of schedule.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Embattled Hernando dredge project manager to stay on job 04/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2011 6:24pm]
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