Judge tosses bids for Tar Creek demolition

The judge found last week that the trust overseeing a federal buyout violated the state’s Open Meeting Act.

The Tulsa World
By SHEILA STOGSDILL, World Correspondent

CLAREMORE — The owner of a Tulsa-area demolition business said Thursday that he’s not sure whether he will submit a second bid on a project after a recent ruling found that members of a Tar Creek Trust had violated the state’s Open Meeting Act.

Rogers County District Judge Dwayne Steidley ruled Wednesday that the Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust, which oversees a federally funded buyout of homes in Picher, was wrong when it awarded a $2.1 million contract to Stone’s Backhoe, Dozer and Trucking of Miami, Okla.

DT Specialized Services Inc. filed a civil suit on April 22 in Ottawa County District Court in Miami, accusing the trust of violating the Open Meeting Act and the Competitive Bidding Act.

The lawsuit was reassigned to Steidley, who ruled that Stone’s contract was void.

Trust Chairman Mark Osborn declined to comment on the court’s decision.

Assistant Attorney General Sherry Todd was unavailable for comment.

Charlie Price, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said the trust is discussing its legal options but that no decision has been made as to whether an appeal will be filed.

“I filed the lawsuit because I am a taxpayer and it was obvious it was an inside deal,” said David J. McAfee, the company’s co-owner.

“The taxpayers and the people of Picher were going to get fleeced again.”

Lloyd Stone was awarded the contract in February to clean up or demolish 156 houses in the Tar Creek area.

Midwest Wrecking submitted a bid of $861,671, K&N Wrecking submitted a bid of $1,447,971, and Stone’s Backhoe, Dozer and Trucking submitted a bid of $2.1 million, according to the petition.

DT Specialized Services’ bid was $558,988, McAfee said. He also took issue with the bid form and the manner in which it was written.

“It was written by someone incompetent or written in a manner to position the numbers,” McAfee said.

Because the Open Meeting Act was violated, all the bids are all void and the trust will have to seek new bids for the project, said Terry O’Donnell, DT Specialized Services’ attorney.

The trust decided to take a higher bid, he said.

Earlier this week, the trust’s members learned at a meeting that the trust had a longstanding relationship with Stone’s Backhoe, Dozer and Trucking, O’Donnell said.

“They were happy with the work he did before so they were going to use him again,” he said.

“There was nothing improper,” said Lloyd Stone. “The bid was based on the entire operation — not price.”

Stone said the trust is paying him for the houses that have been destroyed.

Larry Roberts, trust operations manager, said about 30 houses have been demolished.

The trust was formed after a 2006 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study showed that the abandoned lead and zinc mines under Picher and the nearby communities of Cardin and Hockerville had a high risk of caving in, prompting a federally funded buyout.

Read more from this Tulsa World article here.

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Published May 8, 2020

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