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‘Drop-dead’ date set for late South Whidbey Fire/EMS boat

Six weeks past due, a nearly $500,000 South Whidbey Fire/EMS fire boat remains uncompleted this week.

Fire Chief Rusty Palmer told the three South Whidbey Fire/EMS commissioners Thursday night that a few items remained unfinished on the district’s punch list, a document that specified placement and functionality of equipment on the 32-foot aluminum catamaran. North Cross Aluminum, a Freeland-based shop, had called Palmer a few minutes before the Thursday night commissioners meeting to say they were working on the remaining issues and are awaiting parts.

The boat was originally scheduled to be finished and delivered to the district Dec. 31, 2013. Every day the boat was late potentially cost the company $400 per day, as was included in the construction contract. The commissioners, however, agreed to forgo the late penalties at their last meeting upon taking conditional possession of the boat. Palmer recommended Thursday that they reconsider and withhold the final $9,600 payment.

“He’s 45 days late, not five days late,” Palmer said of Tim Leonard, owner of North Cross Aluminum. “That’s why we have a contract.”

But the board maintained its earlier decision. Commissioner Kenon Simmons contended that keeping the check would not gain the district any leverage over the company or benefit the district.

“It would be my opinion, one of three, to give them the check … I don’t think it’s going to gain us anything to hold it,” Simmons said.

The commissioners, at Palmer’s request, set a drop-dead date of Tuesday, Feb. 18, for the boat to be finished.

The fire boat was mostly paid for by a $350,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, with the rest coming from the district’s coffers.

 

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