Construction deadline for Wewa firehouse pushed into 2022

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The deadline for the completion of the new Wewahitchka Firehouse was pushed back again at the city’s most recent commission meeting, moving completion of the project into the new year.

But commissioners say this is the last time, barring an emergency circumstance, that they will allow the deadline to be moved.

"For me, they’ve just got to get through it,” said Mayor Phillip Gaskin.

Wewahitchka’s old firehouse was torn down early in the year, much to the surprise of many city residents. The facility was outdated and damaged, according to city commissioners, and in much need of being rebuilt.

Construction of the new facility began in early this year, after the contract was awarded to Winterfell Construction a few months prior. Initially, the city hoped to have the project completed by the holidays. When that no longer was possible, they pushed the deadline to the end of December.

"We’ve had three change orders to date that’ve been executed,” said Lance Watson, an engineer speaking for Jack Husband, who was absent. “And I think 71 days of contract time have been added so far. That gets us to that December 25 date.”

Tommy Hamm, a representative from Winterfell Construction who was in attendance at the meeting, said that an unexpected number of rain days had slowed construction considerably during the wet months of July, August and September.

This has been one of the rainiest years on record, with over 90 inches of expected rainfall by year’s end. Gulf County’s average annual precipitation is 61 inches.

“Since July 15, up until October 6, we’ve counted seven days where there’s been an inch or more than an inch of rain and 18 total days that there’s been an inch or greater rain, so what the contractor is asking for is 20 days,” Watson said.

Hamm continued to express that supply chain shortages were contributing to more recent slowdowns, with a death in the construction crew and lacking replacements creating a delay.

"It’s progress payments,” he said. “So, I have no incentive to go slow. I’m anticipating it to pick up speed dramatically once I can get a roof on there. That inside work will go fast when I don’t have to worry about the rain.”

“They’re circling like buzzards right now wanting to try to get in and get something done.”

The new expected date of completion is mid-January.

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