Contract for safety services for 2002 Aggie bonfire in works

(U-WIRE) COLLEGE STATION, Texas — New York-based Turner Construction

agreed Thursday to provide safety services as part of the Texas A&M University Bonfire 2002 planning team.

The signed contracts are going through Texas A&M reviewing boards and should have final approval Monday, said Bonfire 2002 Steering Committee Facilitator Dr. Bryan Cole. Assuming the A&M reviewing board signs the contract, Turner representatives will meet with design firm CBM Engineers of Houston to review the 16 designs and present them to the steering committee, Cole said.

The steering committee will then choose six designs for the engineering and safety firms to concentrate on, and from those designs select three finalists for the student body to review.

When students can view the designs will depend on how long Turner reviews the safety aspects of each design, Cole said.

If the safety firm completes its work and meets with the steering committee before Thanksgiving, students will see the designs on the committee’s Web site beginning Nov. 26, Cole said. If the firm takes any longer, the designs will not be posted until the second week of January.

“If they can get it done safely and correctly within that amount of time, then we can proceed this semester,” Cole said.

Students will have two to three weeks to review the designs either way, Cole said. Once students have had ample time for feedback, the steering committee will chose the final design for Bonfire.

University President Dr. Ray M. Bowen is expected to consider the committee’s recommended design and decide in January if Bonfire 2002 will become a reality. If it takes longer for the final design to be presented to Bowen, Cole said Bowen’s decision and all the steps to implement the planning for Bonfire that would come after it would be delayed.

But Cole said he is optimistic now that a deal with Turner is pending. Negotiations with Turner have taken more than a month to come to fruition. The planning group had previously been turned down by two safety firms during the negotiation process this year.

Vallen Knowledge Systems Corp., selected in April, backed out in June after Cole said they asked for concessions that A&M could not provide. Marak Safety Services ended negotiations Oct. 1, citing lack of student involvement and money concerns.

Cole said the planning group contacted Turner through CBM Engineers as soon as Marak ended its involvement. A deal was expected as soon as two weeks ago.Throughout the negotiation process, Cole expressed concern about the proceedings and the effect the slowdown would have on Bonfire 2002.

“The longer this draws out, of course the greater the potential for Bonfire not to happen in 2002,” Cole said in October.

Last week, the planning group still had trouble contacting Turner, but Cole said Bonfire was not their only project.

Any estimates on how much Turner will be paid beyond its work for this semester would not be available until a design is chosen, Cole said. Turner will be paid on an hourly basis until the end of the semester, and then the terms of their contract would be re-evaluated, he said.

“We’re concerned of the amount it might be. We’re talking about significant one-time up-front costs to a point, like for blueprints and manuals,” Cole said. “After that, how much a safety firm gets paid will change.”

Bowen said the estimated $1.5 million pricetag for Bonfire 2002 might force the University to reconsider plans for future Bonfires.

Turner, which has regional offices in Dallas and Houston, will be responsible for reviewing the safety aspects of each design option, creating safety, training and risk-management manuals for Bonfire workers, and working with student Bonfire leadership to ensure proper training.

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