NEWLAND — An error by the architect on the Avery County High School construction and renovation project will require more than $100,000 to be moved from the project’s contingency fund.
Architecture firm Boomerang Design’s Rob Johnson came to the regular meeting of the Avery County Board of Commissioners on Sept. 3, primarily to discuss the error, which omitted engineering fees for the high school’s new physical plant from the total project cost totaling $104,975, according to a corrected cost shown to the commissioners at the meeting.
The error is approximately one-half of one percent of the total cost of the project.
The commissioners agreed to amend the project ordinance at its upcoming meeting on Sept. 16 to move the funds from the contingency fund for the project to cover the engineering fees.
There was contention over what action would be taken if the contingency fund, which represents 10 percent of the project cost, runs out. The county already secured financing for the project not including the error, so the ordinance amendment will allow the county to maintain the total project cost for the time being.
The project cost came in 12 percent below estimate when it was awarded to Branch Builds in May.
Johnson took responsibility for the error.
Boomerang is the firm behind a number of other recent county projects, including the new Cooperative Extension Offices at Heritage Park, the new county pool complex and the upcoming community center at Heritage Park.
Johnson also presented the commissioners with memorandums of understanding regarding the community center, which county attorney Michaelle Poore will review for approval at the next meeting. Johnson advised the commissioners to enlist the help of an engineer the firm recommends to advise the project’s acoustical design and needs.
The center is planned as a multifunctional space that could be used as a music venue.
The commissioners also received a report from Richard Thornburgh, National Forest Service ranger for the Appalachian District of the Pisgah National Forest.
The Appalachian district encompasses Elk River Falls, a landmark notable for its popularity as a tourist attraction and the number of deaths that have occurred at the site over the years. Last year two men drowned at the waterfall, though there have been no fatalities this year.
Thornburgh reviewed new signage that has been posted at the site warning visitors of the perils involved with jumping from the top of and swimming in waterfalls.
Thornburgh also reviewed the impending closure of the Overmountain Shelter, a shelter located near the Overmountain Victory Trail and the Appalachian Trail. The shelter was closed the following day on Sept. 4.
The reasons for the closure was structural damage. The shelter, originally a 1970s barn, has developed a lean and visual degradation of the support structures for the shelter. The shelter was not originally intended to house people. The future of the shelter, whether it will be repaired or torn down, is uncertain.
The area around the shelter is still open for camping and, in a press release about the closure, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy noted the Stan Murray Shelter is two miles from the Overmountain Shelter.
AMY Regional Library Director Amber Westall-Briggs presented the board with a change to the Avery County Morrison Library’s bylaws that would remove the cap on local library board membership. Briggs advised the change had been made at some of the other libraries in the system to open membership to more people who may want to get involved with the library. The change would require board approval. Poore advised she will review the changes and make recommendations.