If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The village of Colfax has officially received an answer that the collapse of the ceiling at the Department of Public Works building is not covered by insurance.
According to a letter from the Municipal Property Insurance Company, there is no coverage for the ceiling collapse because of a deficiency in materials, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, at the Colfax Village Board’s April 8 meeting.
The letter states, as per the report of Larry Gotham, an engineer with Morgan & Parmley, Ltd., “In conclusion, the ceiling collapse occurred as a result of the failed furring strip to truss connections. The allowable load capacity of the nails was exceeded which caused the nails to pull out of the bottom chord of the truss.”
The engineer from Morgan & Parmley and the claims specialist from MPIC were at the DPW building for three or four hours, inspecting the ceiling collapse and taking pictures, Niggemann said.
The Village of Colfax purchased the DPW building from Cedar Country Cooperative for $270,000 more than 10 years ago.
In the October 31, 2007, Colfax Messenger, it was reported the village board had accepted the low bid of $276,996 from J. Thiesen Construction out of Eau Claire to remodel the former warehouse into a building that could be used by the Department of Public Works.
The Messenger story reported that the village board had contemplated paying for the project with $99,314.59 from the contingency fund, $83,350 from money set aside to build a new shop, and $85,831.41 from interest earnings. If the remodeling project were funded that way, $46,000 would remain in the contingency fund.
According to the report from Morgan & Parmley, the inspector spoke with Rand Bates, Director of Public Works.
“Rand was in the building during the time of the failure and was able to video a portion of the failure on his phone. Rand said he was in his office when he heard a popping noise, looked out and saw the ceiling panels begin to fall from the ceiling. The failure was progressive, starting near the south wall and going to the east and west and also toward the north. The failure was stopped when Rand drove the end loader near the center of the failure area and propped up the ceiling using a man bucket … if the end loader were moved, the ceiling would continue to collapse. The ceiling is only temporarily stabilized and the ceiling support system has little or no safety factor available to stop the failure mode,” the report states.
Niggemann said she had been told by one source that the statute of limitations on the DPW remodeling work is seven years, but that another source had told her the statute of limitations is 13 years.
A call has been placed to the village’s attorney to see if a claim can still be filed, Niggemann said.
If the village files a lawsuit, the construction company that did the work must be allowed to come and see the failure of the ceiling, she said.
Because the DPW building was considered a commercial building and was going to be converted into a municipal use, state-approved building plans would have been required for the work.
The village’s copy of the state-approved building plans for the DPW building cannot be located, Niggemann said.
The engineering firm that worked with the village on the DPW remodel, MSA Professional Services, also cannot locate a copy of the plans, she said.
MSA says an electronic version of the plans is not at that particular office, and they cannot find the hard copy of the plans, Bates said.
“There must be state-approved plans somewhere,” he said.
A rough estimate for the repair of the ceiling is $50,000, Niggemann said.
Annie Jenson, village trustee, expressed surprise and said she thought the repair would cost much more than $50,000.
Nails and screws
Nails also were used in the ceiling on the Colfax Rescue Squad’s portion of the building, Bates said.
One row of nails, from the stairs going up to the living quarters to the outside south wall, have screws put in next to the nails, he said.
There was a problem with something, “but we don’t know what,” Bates said.
The fifty-foot by ninety-foot building was constructed in 1999, he noted.
The ceiling panels were not installed the way they were supposed to be so that about one-third of the panels were not connected to the rafters at all, Bates said.
According to the report from the engineer, “the 29 gauge steel panels have ribs nine inches on center and are nailed to two-inch by four-inch furring strips with rows of nails placed every four feet (it appears that only half the furring strips are being used) … There is approximately sixteen inches of blown fiberglass insulation over the steel panels, and the insulation does not appear to have any moisture present. In addition to the dead load of the steel panels, insulation and furring strips, HVAC equipment and ductwork appear to be mounted to the steel panel system and arranged to be in line with the row of steel panel fasteners.”
The Colfax Village Board did not take any action regarding the DPW ceiling at the April 8 meeting.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved the use of the FFA Arts and Crafts building at the fairgrounds by the Colfax Municipal Building Elevator Commission from August 5 to August 11.
• Approved a facility rental request from Jody Albricht and Jeanie Goldsmith for the beer garden at the fairgrounds for a June 29 wedding.
• Accepted the low bid from Haas Sons, Inc., out of Thorp for the Roosevelt Street project in the amount of $252,781.07. Total project time is expected to be four to six weeks from the start of the Roosevelt Street project until it is completed. Paperwork to allow Haas Sons to start the project is expected to also take four to six weeks.
• Accepted the bid of $6,550 from Don’s Sweeper Service to sweep the streets three times. If additional street sweeping is required by the village, the work will be completed at $104 per hour. The price is the same as last year.
• Approved a motion to advertise the tarp from the salt-sand shed on sealed bid. The size of the tarp is thirty feet by fifty feet.
• Approved sending a letter to a property owner with a garage that is collapsing at the corner of First Avenue and Pine Street as per the village’s unsafe buildings ordinance under Section 15-1-16. The letter will include information about loan and grant opportunities for homeowners from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development. The village clerk’s office is willing to help the property owner fill out applications for loans and grants. The USDA office may also be willing to help with the paperwork, Niggemann said.