Wewahitchka looks to move forward with firehouse project

Wewahitchka’s city commissioners are looking to move forward with construction on the city’s new fire station after progress on the project was halted in January following the city’s termination of their contract with the structure’s former contractor — Winterfell Construction Inc..

But with pending litigation on the matter, the city still has a few hoops to jump through before they rebid the project for construction, and they do not want Winterfell involved.

“I’m not interested in him doing any more work over here,” said Wewahitchka Mayor Phillip Gaskin about Winterfell’s owner, Bay County Commissioner Tommy Hamm. “I mean, look at what he’s already said about us. No, not what he said about us — look at the quality of his work.”

“I’m worried about the quality of his work, and it is substandard… so I’m not interested in seeing that gentleman back over here on the city’s property doing any work, nor anybody affiliated with him.”

Winterfell’s lawsuit came months after the city terminated their contract with the construction company in January over concerns regarding the quality and pace of the firehouse’s construction. 

In a letter addressed to the city’s attorney, Michelle Jordan, on July 12, six months after the contract was terminated, Winterfell offered to replace the building’s concrete slab – one of the city’s chief complaints in terminating their contract with the construction company.

“It appears they are attempting to accept some responsibility for the slab,” Jordan said. “… He said he would remove and replace the slab pursuant to the initial design plans.”

But at their July 28 meeting, the city commissioners refused Winterfell’s offer, stating that they would rather have no further involvement with the company outside of the pending lawsuit.

Winterfell did not respond to several requests for comment on the matter before the Star’s print deadline.

Last month, the city also received their second summons in the lawsuit between Winterfell and them.

The second summons, which officially notifies the city that they are being sued, comes after the city was granted a motion to dismiss Winterfell’s previous summons in the case due to improper service.

In the complaint, Winterfell claims Wewahitchka breached the contract, citing arguments that city processes significantly slowed or hindered the progress of the firehouse project and that Winterfell feels the contract was wrongfully terminated. The company is suing for damages, costs and other relief.

“The city and its representatives continually interrupted the subject project by instructing Winterfell to perform outside of the terms and conditions in the contract,” reads the complaint.

The construction company went on to allege that the city failed to sign necessary change orders in a timely manner, if at all, and that the city’s concerns over defective workmanship “would not prohibit the completion of the project.”

At the July 28 meeting, Wewahithcka’s commissioner also discussed how to move forward with construction processes, preparing to rebid the project, even with litigation processes still underway.

“How long is this going to go on before we can start making progress on the city project?” Gaskin asked at the July 28 meeting.

“We’re not going to keep continuing on. We’re fixing to finish that building.”

The city entertained moving forward with the project by providing the money to rebid and complete construction of the fire house up front, then recuperating the funds from the project’s bonding company afterwards. Gaskin said he hoped to be able to put the project out for bid again at the city’s meeting at the end of this month.

“We just don’t want to keep fighting fine about it. We want to get a cure,” the mayor said. “We need to come to a conclusion as to what’s going to happen because we’re thinking we need to finish that building.”


Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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