The groundbreaking by Monolith Construction took place Wednesday morning, July 3. [ Monolith Construction ]
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Wewahitchka fire station gets second groundbreaking

After a three-year delay, the Wewahitchka Fire Station project is back on track.

Work came to a halt in January 2022, when the town and the original contractor sued each other over the quality of construction. A new firm is now on the job. 

City officials broke ground on their new fire station Wednesday, July 3 for the second time.

“So coming out here, we first came out to assess the site and see what we’re getting involved in. And unfortunately, we were sad to see that it got left in a state where the contractor was so close to finishing,” Monolith Construction Vice President Nick Sanphillieo said.

The original contractor was Winterfell Construction, owned by Tommy Hamm and his wife Jamie. The city accused Hamm of doing shoddy work, and went to court, with the matter later resolved earlier this year with a settlement in which the holder of its surety bond FAIRCO (Fair American Insurance and Reinsurance Company) paid the city $850,000..

“Right off the bat, when we walked in, it was clear that the slab failed. The engineers that came in and they drilled the slab and found out that, in fact, it did not meet the specifications that they required and that was one of the first things. And then we turned and saw the framing. The way it was framed was just clearly not to code,” Sanphillieo said.

Despite the problems, the new contractor Monolith Construction plans to finish the partially built structure.

“The next step next week is permits are being filed and we’re going to start to finish doing the interior demo here. All this concrete has got to go. We’re going to start clearing some land outside. We have to reshape some of the land. Next step after that, we’ll be framing electrical, plumbing, AC, and installation and start to close this place up,” Monolith Construction owner Chris Karagiannis said.

Sanphllieo says they want to gain the community’s trust and leave their mark in Gulf County. “We’re ready. We’ve been, you know, planning this for a while now since we first laid eyes on it. And as you can see out here today, I mean, we’re not wasting any time. We’re ready,”he said.

Winterfell Construction has declared bankruptcy. Wewahitchka still has $600,000 in FEMA funding to finish the project, which should be completed in six months. In addition, State Rep. Jason Shoaf was able to secure funds from the state budget which could go towards covering additional expenses.

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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