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City awards cleanup bid

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council awarded bids for disaster response and recovery services as well as site management during a special meeting Wednesday morning.

The council also set a final date of May 31 for all debris to be put to the boulevard.

The disaster response and recovery services bid was opened April 18, but a decision was tabled during a meeting last week. On Wednesday, the council awarded the cleanup bid to Ceres Environmental Services Inc., Brooklyn Park.

Requests for proposals were sent out based on a number estimated by the city. Because the exact number of loads and work is yet to be determined, the bid projection could be higher or lower.

"I'd like to thank the city council in their confidence in our work and our selection," David Preus, project manager for Ceres, said. "We appreciate the opportunity, and we are interested in helping the city recover as quickly as possible. We will coordinate with the city on the scheduling of both when our equipment comes in and their schedule for the first and second pass. Our primary concern is safety and customer service."

Based on the numbers estimated by the city and Director of Public Works Jim Eulberg, Ceres has a bid of $603,375. The other bidder, TAG Grinding Services Inc., based out of Dadeville, Ala., had a total of $982,750.

Ceres has worked on many projects before that have qualified for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) money. According to Preus, they also plan on reaching out to local contractors.

"We've done over 100 FEMA reimbursed projects, including many ice storm projects," Preus said. "We have several offices in the United States, and we've expanded into earthquake recovery in New Zealand and Haiti. The company was founded in the Twin Cities, so we're happy to be working in Minnesota.

"We will talk with local contractors to see if they would be interested in working on this project," he added. "We'll also bring in crews from other places."

As the crews begin to pick up debris, Preus said his concern is safety, and he reminded the public to make an effort to stay away from the machines as they do their work. He also said that cutting logs into smaller pieces makes the job more difficult. If possible, keeping the debris in bigger piles is preferred.

The debris management site bids were opened Friday and had two bidders.

Nobles County Landfill was awarded the bid with a total of $350,000. According to the bid, the plan is to burn the debris. Larson Crane Service Inc. was the other bidder, and it planned on grinding the debris.

"There's more involved than strictly burning it," Eulberg said. "Part of it is site management -- they have to provide towers, they have to keep the roads in good shape -- and it's more than just having someone dump them and throw a match on the material. Plus, they need to dispose of the ash once they are done."

Council member Mike Kuhle asked about Tuesday's meeting with FEMA in regard to the cleanup bids.

"They reviewed them, and they didn't have any concerns," City Administrator Craig Clark said. "They won't give you a seal of approval or anything like that, but they had a chance to review them and let them know their thoughts."

"It was pretty clear (Tuesday) that the proper way or the easiest way for us to hope to get some of the money back would be hire a private firm instead of using city staff," Mayor Alan Oberloh said. "The only way we can use city staff is if they work an eight-hour day and then afterward work through the evening. The extra hours would be qualified, but the rest of the work hours would not."

Additional staff may be required to help with the process, including monitors for the crews working to adhere to the FEMA regulations. The other need would potentially be another forester, which could be contracted from another city or the University of Minnesota.

While there is no set date for the work with Ceres to be completed, the council voted to make May 31 -- weather permitting -- the last day for the public to bring debris to the boulevard. The idea of a date was brought up at the previous day's FEMA meeting.

"They were requesting that the city put a deadline date on bringing debris to the curb; that was pretty clear," Oberloh said. "That's a council action, we were told."

Eulberg stated that the crews will have to make multiple passes past places. However, the bid was based upon cubic yards of debris, so the cost will only increase based on volume.

"We're actually, in good faith, thinking that we're going to get the funds from FEMA eventually," Oberloh said. "That's because the way they are having us do this is not necessarily the way the city would do it if we were strictly on our dime.

"To their defense, they said you have to do this anyway," Oberloh added. "It still has to be cleaned up. I think we have to continue down this way and go with the method they are suggesting."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.