Otis, my man! Adams County committee tries to close the door on elevator snafu


Adams County Courthouse at Fifth and Vermont in Quincy

With apologies to Aerosmith, there is no love in the elevators of the Adams County Courthouse.

The county has been wrangling with the issue of its elevators for years. One of them basically has been out of service for about two years.

At a special meeting Tuesday night that lasted about 45 minutes, the county’s Transportation, Building and Technology committee unanimously recommended a bid from Otis Elevator Company to upgrade the courthouse elevators.

The County Board voted at its meeting last week to kick the Otis bid back to committee. This led to a mea culpa from committee chairman Dave Bellis.

To review, no committee member seconded Bellis’ motion to approve the $700,000 bid by Otis at last week’s meeting, held an hour before the full County Board meeting. The committee did not forward a recommendation to the full Board, yet Bellis made the motion for the full County Board to vote on the Otis bid. Les Post, R-6, seconded the motion at the Board meeting, though he didn’t second the motion in the committee meeting.

Matt Obert, D-5, amended the motion, asking to send the resolution back to the committee to be re-bid. The County Board approved that motion 15-3, with one member abstaining, which led to Tuesday night’s special meeting.

Bellis referred to the late, long-time County Board member John Heidbreder, apologizing for not following his committee’s recommendation. Heidbreder was one of the longest serving County Board members in the state’s history, and he was a bit of a maverick. (I write that with respect.) He also went off script more than few times, often exasperating his fellow board members.

Mike Barnard of Barnard Elevator spoke to the County Board at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting. He claimed the elevator bid specifications were written in such a manner to keep his company from making a bid. He noted a recent elevator project in the courthouse was given to Otis, though his company’s bid was $30,000 lower. Barnard’s attorney filed a lawsuit at the time, and the Adams County Board approved paying Barnard an $8,000 settlement to reimburse him for time he spent preparing the bid.

County officials hoped $8,000 would shut Barnard up. So much for that strategy.

Otis Elevator sales representative Hannah Jordan was at the special meeting as well. She and Barnard engaged in plenty of schoolyard bantering.

Bellis prefers the Otis bid because it was the only one received proposing to use “proprietary equipment” — equipment consistent with other elevators recently renovated in other locations of the courthouse.

Barnard asked the County Board to reject Otis’ bid and rebid the second phase of the project. The County Board wanted to remind Barnard that he got $8,000 and should just be happy.

Brian Musholt of Hollister-Whitney was in attendance to provide perspective, since the company builds elevators and works with both Otis and Barnard. Musholt said Hollister-Whitney builds elevators, and he works with both Otis and Barnard. He also explained the differences between proprietary and non-proprietary equipment.

Barnard said the non-proprietary system his company offers can be maintained, serviced and repaired by any capable elevator maintenance company.

So Adams County Board Chairman Kent Snider did one of the few things he can actually do within statutory guidelines and called for a special County Board meeting at 6 p.m. July 27 so the full board can vote on the bid.

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