Wewa votes to contact bond company on new fire station

In a special meeting called Dec. 9, the Wewahitchka City Commissioners weighed whether to contact the bonding company of the general contractor tasked with building the city’s new fire house and city hall.


The issue was first raised in the commission’s November meeting, where the quality of the building’s construction was first called into question by some concerned citizens. At that meeting, commissioners voted 5-0 to have a meeting with the contractor and his bonding company to discuss specific concerns.


But after meeting with the general contractor, commissioners still felt that more concerns needed to be addressed.


“The work over at the fire station is just not satisfactory,” said City Clerk Rachel Jackson following the December meeting. “There’s deficiencies that, you know, the commissioners all feel that need to be addressed. So, they tried to resolve those with the contractor, that whole network shop and doing a walkthrough, and then we did a special meeting so that they could air all that out.”


The building’s construction had been heavily scrutinized by the commissioners and many members of the public after its completion date had been pushed back by the general contractor, Winterfell Construction, by several months, attributing the delays to above average rainfall, a death on the crew and supply chain shortages.


Wewahitchka has until April to finish the project, or they risk losing FEMA funding.


Ralph Fisher, the commissioner for Ward 2, had been tasked with keeping an eye on the construction of the building after the November meeting. Fisher has a background in construction and volunteered to perform a rough inspection of the facility to look into citizens’ concerns. 


It was his recommendation, along with Mayor Phil Gaskins, who is also a contractor, that a more thorough investigation be performed.


“Finding a large crack in the concrete floor with a possible void under that cracked slab, as well as several other things that Mr. Fisher and Jack Husband pointed out to the Mayor and the other City Commissioners, caused concerns ” wrote Tom Wynn, who attended the meeting, in a Facebook post. “Mayor Gaskin and the rest of the Commissioners have each had their issues with the general contractor and the quality of the work on site.”


After several minutes of discussion, the commissioners unanimously voted to contact the bonding company of Winterfell Construction. The city’s attorney, Michelle Jordon, was tasked with reaching out to the bonding company to have them inspect the work before the City takes next steps.


“They had kind of asked the contractor some specific things to hold off on doing until they could get some clarification and written correspondence from the actual building manufacturer,” Jackson said. 


“(The contractor) continued working on those items anyway, which has now compounded those problems and issues even more. So they held a couple other meanings, and at the last meeting that they held, which was on December 9, they instructed our attorney to contact the bond company and start arranging a meeting between the bond company in case we need to call that bond in because of the deficiencies in the work.”


Jackson said that the city’s attorney has sent a letter to the bonding company and that the city is waiting for a response.


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 NonDoc.com 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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