Hawkins County board to give contractor one last chance to fix leaks at Phipps Bend building

Jeff Bobo • Jan 27, 2013 at 9:14 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Joseph Construction will have one more opportunity to repair the roof leaks at a Phipps Bend spec building before the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board turns the matter over to attorneys.

The $1.3 million building located in the Phipps Bend Industrial Park was completed last year and is currently being advertised worldwide to prospective new industry.

Engineer Randy Beckner, who designed the 60,000-square-foot shell building, told the IDB Thursday the ongoing roof leaks that have taken place since the project was completed have been traced back to “construction related issues.”

“The contractor has come back to the building on numerous occasions to do what I’ve deemed as just Band-Aid type work and not really interested in making the building right,” Beckner told the IDB. “The building manufacturer, Butler Building, has gotten involved, and it does look like Joseph Construction is willing to come and sit down at a table and discuss the issues and possibly step up to the plate and make it right. There are some issues where the plans required specific things that were not done during the construction, so we hope we can get it resolved to everyone’s satisfaction without going the legal route.”

Hawkins County received a $600,000 grant for the spec building and borrowed the other $700,000. For two years the IDB paid 2.67 percent interest only on that loan, but beginning in February Hawkins County will begin paying $46,500 per year toward the principal until the building sells.

The goal was to create a vacant industrial facility ready for a new company to move in immediately and bring jobs to the county.

Hawkins County Industrial Developer Lynn Lawson has been courting one Chinese company for several months. He reported to the IDB on Thursday that two other companies are now looking at the building.

It’s going to be easier to sell once the roof leak problem is permanently solved, Lawson added.

IDB Chairman Larry Elkins said he has met with Hawkins County attorney Jim Phillips, who suggested the board attempt one more meeting with Joseph Construction to work out an agreement rather than filing a lawsuit.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful building,” Elkins said. “It’s just got some leaks and they need to come in and fix it. If they don’t, we’re going to sue them.”

Elkins added, “We’ve got the public’s money in that building, we’ve got grant money in that building, and if they don’t make it right we are committed to sue them. We’re going to sue them if they don’t fix it to our satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the engineer. I hope we can get it resolved because, to be honest, it is hindering our showing and selling of that building.”

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