The California City Council used COVID-19 funding to renovate the town hall at 1019 E. Copeland Street during the winter, the latter half without the assistance of a contractor.
Michael Hatt, the town’s secretary, said the company will now sue to get back the $33,000 paid for DWS services for work it ended up doing itself.
“I think we paid him a little over $150,000,” Hatt said. “We did that part.”
Hatt said Fremont, Ind., started out as a paint contractor to rebuild the town hall. Work was done well. The company offered to renovate the roof, rebuild the side, replace the roof, install new floors, and remove the chimney from the rear. The bathrooms have been reconstructed. The town improved the lighting in the dark and filthy former building. The town paid the contractor up front, based on bids.
The company and its crew renovated the pressed metal roof in what was previously a Mennonite church built in the 1880s. The town bought it decades ago.
Hatt said the roof was leaking “in two corners” and needed repair. Seven layers of roofs stacked on top of each other were so heavy that the walls bulged out.
“It could have collapsed and pushed the walls out,” he said.
The roof is now just studs and a metal roof over the roof.
New custom-built replacement tall windows have yet to be installed. Hatt went to Shipshewana, Indiana and literally found one to build it. It will pick it up and see it installed to replace your existing plywood.
Historical books and records sat out in the open on overhanging shelves. The city council placed them in the newly constructed glass-enclosed bookcases along the back wall to help preserve them.
The DWS owner failed to show up for his job starting in October,” Hatt said.
“He was getting paid for the bookstores and windows, but I rehired some of his workers,” Hat Eased. They have hunted work. “There were several other things I paid for, but he didn’t,” Hatt said. “It came to $33,000.”
Work began in March 2021. “The work was great. We have a beautiful new building. (The owner) was here every day with the workers. Then in October, he fell off the face of the earth,” Hatt said. Hat declined to speculate on the cause. He left some equipment on site.
Township attorney Chuck Lillis attempted to send notices to the company and its officers, but was unable to locate them. The board instructed Lillis to file a lawsuit.
Hatt submitted four applications for the state’s COVID-19 relief fund before receiving funds for building maintenance and upgrades.
“The only thing I didn’t really do was that front room,” he said. “We just leave it as it was.”
This includes three stained glass windows from its days as a church. The church’s other preserved remains, the carved wooden pulpit, sits on the podium in the center of the bookcases.