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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
Upon opening bids for the long-planned expansion of the Winchester Public Library, city officials were dismayed to discover that estimates for the construction work came in significantly higher than the grant award to conduct the work.
Two bids were received for the work. Both bids exceeded the library’s budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“When we opened the bids, the low bid was from Trotter in Macomb for $515,000, and we also received a bid of $610,000 from Laverdiere Construction,” Winchester Mayor Rex McIntire said. “The budget for the project is $318,000.”
McIntire said the difference in the budgeted amount and the bids is, in part, due to an increase in material and labor costs. However, the state’s grant award, according to McIntire, is based on a budget submitted with a grant application a decade ago.
“The original budget is 10 years old,” McIntire said.
Given the significant financial shortfall, McIntire said that the city set out to secure additional grant funding to make the library expansion a reality.
“We decided to go back to USDA to see if they had any additional funding,” McIntire said. “Dwight Reynolds with USDA has been exceptional to work with on this.”
Working with city officials, Reynolds helped Winchester access $270,000 in USDA Capital Facility Grant funds that will allow work to move forward at the library.
According to McIntire, he feels very fortunate to receive the additional grant money to bridge the library’s funding gap.
“I feel very blessed to work with such great individuals – Dwight Reynolds at USDA, Mark Shaffer at the Illinois State Library, and with City Attorney John Paul Coonrod and engineer Greg Hillis,” McIntire said. “It was their efforts that gained us these additional funds. We were astonished to be granted this money.”
McIntire said the city’s next steps will be to formally accept the USDA Capital Facility Grant award, and then to accept the low bid for the library expansion project, which was submitted by Trotter.
Once the grant and the bid are accepted, McIntire expects work to commence on the library fairly quickly.
“I would say work would start within a month of accepting the bid,” McIntire said. “We would be looking at late October or into November. We need to move on this.”
The library expansion will increase the library’s footprint significantly and allow more space for the library’s youth collection and allow for more programming to take place at the library.