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Des Moines firm picked as county LEC project construction manager

This drawing shows the new law enforcement center that will be built west of the Floyd County courthouse. (Prochaska and Associates model)
This drawing shows the new law enforcement center that will be built west of the Floyd County courthouse. (Prochaska and Associates model)
By Bob Steenson, 

Floyd County supervisors Tuesday morning selected a company with experience in building other jails to be the construction manager for the $13.5 million law enforcement center and courthouse updates project.

After interviewing three finalist companies for the job on Monday, the board members unanimously selected the Samuels Group, with offices in Des Moines and Wausau, Wisconsin.

“We did have a big day yesterday,” said Supervisor Linda Tjaden, who has led much of the effort on the LEC project and who is part of a core group of county officials that makes day-to-day decisions on the project.

Tjaden said one of the main reasons the core group recommended the Samuels Group to the board on Tuesday was the company’s experience in building jails and other detention centers.

“We really needed to focus on what our project is all about and the Samuels Group, I believe, was the best one in their presentation to demonstrate their expertise in being able to do that,” she said.

Supervisors Doug Kamm and Roy Schwickerath agreed the most important part of the project is the new 32-bed county jail.

“Samuels seemed to show us a little more expertise in the jail and detention part of it,” Kamm said.

Schwickerath said, “I think that the knowledge level that the Samuels Group brought forward with the detention part was far and above the other two. They were all three very professional and I think they would all do a good job, but absolutely the Samuels Group had the knowledge of our type of project.”

The company will be paid a preconstruction costs fee of $57,300, which represents 0.5 percent of estimated construction costs of $11.46 million.

The fee for construction services will be 2 percent, or more than $200,000, depending on final costs.

One of the first jobs of the construction manager will be to come up with a more precise estimate of the project’s costs.

Initially figured at less than $13.5 million including contingencies and soft costs, the latest total cost estimate by the project architects, Prochaska & Associates, of Omaha, Nebraska, is for $13.98 million, almost half a million dollars above the bond amount approved by county voters last May.

The Prochaska estimate is based on standardized square-foot cost estimates for the type of work being done, and most of the increased costs are from changes made to the courthouse renovation part of the project.

Curt Field, a Prochaska architect and project manager, told the Press that the Samuels Group will work with Prochaska and the county to establish the project budget, and to come up with possible alternate methods or materials to keep costs below the approved bond figure.

“The construction manager’s primary function at this stage is to assure conformance with the budget,” Field said.

The Samuels Group will have an onsite superintendent who is an employee of the company, Field said.

“The construction manager’s staff will interact directly with the workers on the job, the owner and the architect, similar to the behavior of a general contractor,” Field said.

“This project will have no general contractor per se, but instead, will likely have several ‘prime subcontractors,’” Field said.  

Prochaska will also work with the Samuels Group to complete construction drawings and specifications, “hopefully for a spring/summer start,” Field said.

In addition to the Samuels Group, the other finalists interviewed Monday were Carl A. Nelson and Co. Construction, with offices in Burlington, Cedar Falls and Muscatine; and Estes Construction of West Des Moines and Davenport.

Other law enforcement and/or detention center projects where the Samuels Group has served as construction manager include:

  • The Dallas County Law Enforcement Center in Adel, a 130-bed jail, sheriff’s offices and courtroom.
  • The Clinton County Justice Facility in Clinton, a 92-bed jail, sheriff’s offices and 911 call center.
  • The Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville, a 540-bed prison with associated facilities.
  • The Oconto County Law Enforcement Center in Oconto, Wisconsin, a 150-bed detention facility.
  • The Chippewa County Jail expansion in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, a 100-bed jail expansion.

Bidding on the actual construction contracts for the project are expected to take place in May or June, with construction starting in July. The project is expected to be finished in late 2020.