Hallsville School District acknowledges mistake over bid for construction

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HALLSVILLE – Hallsville R-IV Board of Education has acknowledged that work performed by B&B Services was not completed under a formal written contract or let out to public bid. 

Board President Jon Bequette apologized for the mistake Monday at Hallsville High School.

“It’s very difficult and a little embarrassing to have to stand here today in front of my community, my family and my friends and admit that there were mistakes made in this project,” Bequette said.

The situation arose in April of 2013 when a $2 million bond was issued to replace aging science and fitness classrooms and perform a few upgrades. The construction of the project lasted through Summer of 2015. 

According to the Missouri Revised Statutes Section 177.086, on estimated expenditures $15,000 or more, the school district shall advertise for bids in at least two daily newspapers. Back in March, KOMU 8 News requested all of the invoices for B&B Services. The invoices show the district paid B&B Services a total of $531,554, which means they should have advertised a bid.

The Board of Education said it cannot “conclusively determine” that the district overpaid on some aspects of the project but they recognize that possibility exists.

For the past six months, the district has been working with its own law firm Tueth Keeney Cooper Mohan & Jackstadt P.C to “conduct an extensive evaluation of the construction project.” The district also had its own auditor, Gerding Kort & Chitwood review numbers.

When asked if the district would have the sate auditor to go over the numbers, Bequette said the school district already pays for an audit every year.  

“Full trust in the district is earned, and we are in the process of regaining that now,” Bequette said.

The district said to avoid court fees and save some time and money, it reached an agreement with Eric and Lisa Westhues, regarding the work done by B&B services. It will pay the district $10,000 “to resolve the parties’ differences in the matter.” 

Bequette did not elaborate on how they came up with that number. He also said he wasn’t sure what account the money was going to. He said probably just the operating account. 

Bequette said the goal Monday was to own up to the mistakes made.

“I think the biggest comment or the most frequent comment I have had from people is no one is apologized and I hope we’ve accomplished that today,” Bequette said.