Armory soakedWhile the Dickinson National Guard Armory is getting an external facelift, the inside is taking on a new look as well — sopping wet floors, dripping walls and rooms adorned with buckets, funnels and plastic.
While the Dickinson National Guard Armory is getting an external facelift, the inside is taking on a new look as well — sopping wet floors, dripping walls and rooms adorned with buckets, funnels and plastic.
Employees who work at the armory have spent much of their time emptying buckets and moving equipment and furniture after a new roofing project has stopped midway due to inclement weather.
After a contract was awarded to Two Rivers Construction, owned by Brian Kjerstad of Meridian, Idaho, workers began scraping off tar paper and rocks in order to install a sloped roof to avoid future leaks.
However, the weather has not cooperated, leaving the roof leaking along its entire 160-foot roofline.
“Every time it has rained in the last month it has leaked,” said one person who works at the armory.
Nearly 40 garbage cans are scattered throughout the armory, collecting water and needing to be emptied every so often.
“I’m spending half of my day emptying buckets and putting buckets under new leaks rather than taking care of soldiers,” one person who works at the armory said.
After arriving at work, an employee had to dump water out of his keyboard and subsequently ended up driving to Bismarck to purchase a new computer.
A professional carpet cleaner cleaned the facility twice in the past few weeks. One room is filled with a musty, moldy smell. What was once a classroom has now become a storage room.
Aside from the leaking, questions surround the validity of the project.
While Kjerstad’s company was operating without a license March 1, 2009, until April 23, 2010, it is unclear if construction began prior to Kjerstad obtaining the license.
City Administrator Shawn Kessel said Thursday Two Rivers was still assigned to the project, but were not allowed to begin until the company obtained proper licensing.
Kjerstad said he wasn’t sure exactly when construction started, but estimates it was a couple weeks ago.
City Public Works Manager Skip Rapp also said he wasn’t sure when construction started and advised asking Kessel, who was unavailable for comment Friday.
Armory workers estimate construction began about four weeks ago.
Questions of a bidding process also linger.
Associated General Contractors of North Dakota questions why the project wasn’t bid out, but the city said because the work was less than $100,000, bids weren’t required.
Rapp estimates the project’s cost at about $90,000.
Dickinson City Attorney Matt Kolling cites the bidding concerns as a misunderstanding, according to a previous Press article.
On Thursday, Mayor Dennis Johnson said the city will deal with any issues surrounding the bidding process once city codes are clarified.
Scott Staudinger, a representative of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve for North Dakota and a retired Guardsman, said the conditions are unacceptable and the armory is getting the “short end of the stick.”
“Everybody else has got brand-new armories except Dickinson,” he said.
That list includes Bismarck, Minot, Fargo, Wahpeton and Grand Forks.
“This side of the state has not received one dollar,” Staudinger said.
Construction of a new armory was discussed in 1997 and 2002, but Dickinson’s armory is consistently moved down the priority list, Staudinger said.
People who work at the armory said they rarely see work being done on the roof.
“If the weather hasn’t been ideal, they’re not working on it,” one person said.
Kjerstad said recent high winds have inhibited work.
“The only thing that’s preventing them from working is the weather,” Rapp said.
Kjerstad said he hopes to be done with the roof by the end of the month.