Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County commissioners are open to taking on dredge project

BROOKSVILLE — A new direction seems likely for the most snake-bit public works project in recent Hernando County history, the Hernando Beach Channel dredge.

County commissioners frustrated by the inability to make the dredge happen are interested in County Administrator David Hamilton's newest idea to make the county essentially the general contractor on the job.

Their reactions to the idea on Friday also reflect their frustration about all the recent glitches.

"If we contract it out or do it ourselves, who gets blamed if it doesn't happen?'' asked Commission Chairman Jim Adkins. "If I'm going to get blamed for something, I'd rather be a part of it.''

"Well, nothing else has worked, so why not try this?'' said Commissioner Jeff Stabins. "What the heck?''

Hamilton's proposal, which commissioners will discuss on Tuesday, would have county transportation services director Susan Goebel head up the dredge. Staff would be used for the part of the work, such as moving pipes or hauling dirt. The more specialized jobs, such as the actual dredging, would be contracted out.

"It's certainly worth a look,'' said Commissioner Dave Russell. "We have limited funds. We have a project that needs to be completed.''

The county already has the talent to accomplish the project in its in-house engineers, Russell said, and firms can be hired for tasks for which the staff lacks expertise or equipment.

Acting as the general contractor would allow the county to have more flexibility and that might even allow the county to scale down the project to make it better fit within the available funds, Russell said.

A smaller project would also have less environmental impact and could cut back on the amount the county will have to spend on seagrass replanting, he said.

While hiring a general contractor to oversee a project takes some of the day-to-day oversight of a project like the dredge off the county's plate, "that doesn't always work,'' Russell said. "Look at our last contractor. How did that work?''

The dredge project budget was originally $9 million, with the county paying a third and the state paying the remainder. About half that money has already been spent on the last contractor, whom the county fired, and other expenses. Only 6 percent of the actual dredging has been done.

County officials estimated that if they opted to take the one bid they have received on the project, the job could cost another $12 million. Hamilton is suggesting that the bid be formally rejected.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is working with the county daily to craft a new and more flexible permit for a dredge process that would be cheaper. That permit is expected soon.

The county is required to get the work done by Jan. 1, 2012, or lose the state funding.

Commissioner John Druzbick said that the commission on Tuesday must decide whether to reject the bid from BCPeabody, a Tampa-based contractor. Druzbick has said repeatedly that he did not believe it would be fair to accept the bid because it was tied to the old permit.

That permit added many complications to the project, which drove all other interested firms away from submitting a bid. Some of those firm representatives said they would have bid if the project followed a simpler path, like the one county officials are now hoping to get from the state.

Druzbick said he does not want the county to prepare to work on the project until the new DEP permit is in hand because that would be costly.

He also is concerned that, since the county is legally required to bid every expense that tops $25,000, it could slow down the process unless the county can find some goods and services on an already approved state list of vendors.

Another drawback to using county employees for the work is "what else is not getting done,'' Druzbick said. "It's not like we have an overload of additional people just lying around.''

He said the idea is certainly worth talking about but all things need to be considered.

"I don't know if it's the best idea but it does give you a certain amount of control that you didn't have before,'' Druzbick said, "but is also lays more responsibility on the county.''

Stabins said that he understands people might be critical of the idea because the county hasn't been able to make the project happen in more than 16 years and now it wants to run the dredge itself.

Hamilton's proposal "caught me off guard. I found it innovative and I have no other idea,'' Stabins said.

Adkins said he didn't think the job was really that complicated and he believes the county can get the work done. "The dredge, it took on a life of its own and now we're trying to get it back under control,'' he said.

Russell said he hopes Hamilton's proposal is the one that finally gets the job done. "We've got to be thinking outside of the box and within our means,'' he said. "We're just trying to bring this thing in for a landing.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at

Hernando County commissioners are open to taking on dredge project 01/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 10:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

  2. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  3. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  4. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91


    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  5. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years


    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501