Public Works ponders completing final steps for Tobin water project

Exhausting all reasonable efforts to obtain a contractor to complete the Tobin water project, Plumas County Public Works appears willing to step in and complete the job.

During a Community Development Commission meeting Aug. 20, Executive Director Roger Diefendorf along with supervisor and CDC Commissioner Jeff Engel shut off the taps on efforts to flush out a contractor for the job.

The last contractor, a business in Reno, seemed interested, but according to Diefendorf finally didn’t respond.

According to regulations, a public entity can’t do some jobs if it means taking away business from the private sector. County Counsel Craig Settlemire indicated the county could now step in to bring Tobin residents a water supply.

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Diefendorf said he sent the information to Jim Graham at Public Works. Engel said he sent what he was working with to Graham, but it was all on the back of a piece of paper. Engel hoped Diefendorf had more official documentation for Graham to consider.

During a Board of supervisors meeting that same day, Engel suggested a trip to Tobin to Public Works Director Bob Perreault.

Both Engel and Perreault agreed the trip could be advantageous allowing them to discuss the water supply job.The Tobin water project has been an on-again, off-again drip of annoyance to CDC, the county and residents alike.

Grant funding initially launched the project several years earlier. A major hold up came when negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad shut off efforts.

Negotiations with the railroad included allowing the line to run across the railroad bridge near Tobin. Then it was a matter of the size of line that could be used. Each step of the negotiating process seemed to take months and in some cases years.

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At one point this year, Diefendorf had to approach the county for additional funding to complete the project. With funding procured, the contractor that was hired had to send its crew elsewhere. Concerned about the approach of fire season, not to mention the inconvenience to Tobin residents, CDC and Plumas County found itself searching for a new contractor willing to do a small job.

During the Aug. 20 meetings, Engel indicated it was time for public works and himself to walk the bridge again. They would also include the final approach the waterline would take to the tank.

“We can’t find anyone in the private sector,” Engel concluded. And October is traditionally the peak of the fire season when the landscape is at its driest, he added.

CDC Commissioner and Supervisor Sherrie Thrall supported the plan involving public works. She advised Diefendorf to document all his efforts at attempting to find a contractor.

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