Progress on a plan to create a new nutrition center in Allen ground to a halt Tuesday when Pontotoc County commissioners rejected bids to renovate a site intended to house the facility.
Commissioners rejected bids from MacHill and Midway construction companies Tuesday, with District 1 Commissioner Gary Starns citing concerns that the bids were too high.
“It’s just more money than we wanted to put into the project,” Starns said.
District 2 Commissioner Danny Davis said the county has not abandoned the project.
“We’re just going to have to find another building or another location where we can make it work financially, but we’re looking for one now,” Davis said.
The county originally estimated the cost of the project to be about $330,000. But the bids received from MacHill and Midway construction companies came in at $484,500 and $567,578, respectively — a range of $154,500 to $237,578 more than the county was prepared to spend.
Commissioners voted Jan. 30 to move forward with a plan to relocate the deteriorating Allen Nutrition Center into a newly renovated building on Main Street in downtown Allen.
The plan evolved as a result of collaboration between the county, the town of Allen, the Chickasaw Nation and Farmers State Bank after commissioners determined the current site was in such a deteriorated state it was in danger of being closed by the state.
“We own the building, and we’ve tried to patch it and repair it,” Starns said. “But (it’s) just falling apart.”
Starns said the plan was formed when the town of Allen told commissioners they had a building they weren’t doing anything with but lacked the funds to renovate it for use as a nutrition site.
The county didn’t have to look very far to find community members who were willing to pitch in and help with the project.
The Chickasaw Nation provided a new roof and five new air conditioners, then donated $50,000 — part of which Allen used to have an engineering study done in preparation for the renovation.
The county had $185,000 available to put toward the project, but between the Chickasaw Nation’s contribution and the funds the county was able to pitch in, they were still $95,000 short. Farmers State Bank in Allen came to their rescue, agreeing to loan the county the remaining funds needed to complete the project.
Under the current proposals, the county would have to borrow an additional $59,500 to $142,578 to complete the project as planned — an amount commissioners say the county simply does not have.