Construction deadline for Wewa firehouse pushed into 2022

The deadline for the completion of the new Wewahitchka Firehouse
was pushed back again at the city’s most recent commission meeting, moving completion
of the project into the new year.

But commissioners say this is the last time, barring an emergency
circumstance, that they will allow the deadline to be moved.

“For me, they’ve just got to get through it,” said Mayor
Phillip Gaskin.

Wewahitchka’s old firehouse was torn down early in the year,
much to the surprise of many city residents. The facility was outdated and damaged,
according to city commissioners, and in much need of being rebuilt.

Construction of the new facility began in early this year, after
the contract was awarded to Winterfell Construction a few months prior. Initially,
the city hoped to have the project completed by the holidays. When that no longer
was possible, they pushed the deadline to the end of December.

“We’ve had three change orders to date that’ve been executed,”
said Lance Watson, an engineer speaking for Jack Husband, who was absent. “And I
think 71 days of contract time have been added so far. That gets us to that December
25 date.”

Tommy Hamm, a representative from Winterfell Construction who
was in attendance at the meeting, said that an unexpected number of rain days had
slowed construction considerably during the wet months of July, August and September.

This has been one of the rainiest years on record, with over
90 inches of expected rainfall by year’s end. Gulf County’s average annual precipitation
is 61 inches.

“Since July 15, up until October 6, we’ve counted seven days
where there’s been an inch or more than an inch of rain and 18 total days that there’s
been an inch or greater rain, so what the contractor is asking for is 20 days,”
Watson said.

Hamm continued to express that supply chain shortages were contributing
to more recent slowdowns, with a death in the construction crew and lacking replacements
creating a delay.

“It’s progress payments,” he said. “So, I have no incentive
to go slow. I’m anticipating it to pick up speed dramatically once I can get a roof
on there. That inside work will go fast when I don’t have to worry about the rain.”

“They’re circling like buzzards right now wanting to try to get
in and get something done.”

The new expected date of completion is mid-January.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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