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State officials seek contractors for work on Capitol grounds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The state is looking to pay tens of thousands of dollars to private contractors to cut trees, remove stumps, clear snow and do yard work at the Capitol and other Charleston-area state offices.

The state has a 12-person grounds crew, but a spokeswoman said officials are looking to hire private contractors to help them.

A pending tree and stump removal contract is the latest effort to have outside companies help keep up appearances at the Capitol and other state offices in Charleston.

The state wants to get rid of seven trees and 17 stumps on the Capitol grounds. The form of the bid request indicates the state expected to spend at least $25,000 on the work. Officials opened two bids on Tuesday. 

Department of Administration spokeswoman Diane Holley-Brown said the state's own grounds crews are certified with "basic training for the use of chainsaws and other equipment for minor tree pruning; however, because of the complexity and the equipment necessary to complete this extensive amount of work, it is outside the scope of what would be performed within the General Services Division."

The bid request is looking for a contractor that can remove 17 stumps and seven trees, including a Bradford pear with broken limbs, two dead white pines, a decaying crabapple tree, a sugar maple and a diseased red oak.

The state bought a $284,000 bucket truck several years ago. Holley-Brown says the state uses it only for lighting issues and other work.

The $12,000 low bid for the tree and stump project was from Ohio-based Davey Tree Co. The company has an office in Winfield.

Charleston-based Advanced Tree and Lawn Care said it could do the work for $31,500.

The tree removal contract isn't the only grounds crew contract, however.

Earlier this year, the state paid Advanced Tree and Lawn Care $11,500 for "hazard pruning" more than 40 feet off the ground at the Governor's Mansion and $12,900 to pick up and haul away limbs, branches and trees after the June 29 storm.

The state also has a pending contract for private mowing, mulching, seeding and fertilizing at several buildings at the Capitol Complex and scattered across town. Complete bids for the project range from $51,400 to $386,000. The contract has yet to be awarded.

Holley-Brown said the lawn care contract would help the Capitol grounds crew in "peak seasons" when there's a lot of work to be done in a short period of time. There are 10 groundskeepers, a supervisor and a manager on the Capitol grounds crew.

"Our General Services staff does a great job maintaining the beautiful grounds at the State Capitol; however, with the addition of several satellite offices in the Charleston area, during the spring and summer months, we need an option in case we need help with some of the overflow work," she said.

Holley-Brown said the new contracts were not an effort to privatize the grounds crew's work.

"Using outside assistance is nothing new to the General Services Division," she said during a series of emails about the groundskeeping contracts. "We have always utilized seasonal temporary assistance for lawn and landscaping services especially for some of the satellite offices that we maintain."

The state also has an existing snow removal contract. The state's own grounds crews have four snowplows attached to pickup trucks, two salt spreaders, three snow blowers and shovels and manual salt spreaders.

The state paid $5,940 for snow removal this year to Advanced Tree and Lawn Care and $6,350 to Jackson County-based John Myers Property Maintenance. The company's contract says it cannot bill the state for mileage.

Contact writer Ry Rivard at or 304-348-1796. Follow him at www.twitter. com/ryrivard.



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