Firms seek local contractors as they bid for hatchery project

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- Two companies hoping to win a contract to build the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe's new fish hatchery have recently ramped up their efforts to hire local businesses for the job.

Watts Constructors, on Thursday, and Korsmo Construction, on Aug. 12, each held their own job expos to highlight opportunities for local business owners.

The purpose, representatives of the companies said, is to establish a list of local sub-contractors in case they win the bid from the National Park Service in late September.

Construction on the tribe's new fish hatchery -- estimated to cost $18 million and to take 16 months to build -- will begin in the fall on the reservation near the current hatchery at 51 Hatchery Road. It is part of a $308 million project to remove the two Elwha River dams, beginning in 2011.

The number of jobs the project will create will be known after a contractor is selected, said Barb Maynes, Olympic National Park spokeswoman.

"Once a contractor is selected, it will be their determination as to how many people they need to hire," she said.

Turnouts at expos

More than 100 people attended both expos, which caused each company to claim a success.

"It was a good turnout," said Watts Safety Manager Bill Hammond.

"There was quite a rush at the beginning."

Watt's expo was held at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles.

"We exceeded our goals, as well as had great support from the local tribal community," said Korsmo business director Mike Medrzycki.

Korsmo's expo was held on the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation west of Port Angeles.

The company is working with Apollo Inc. on its bid, and Watts is joining forces with DelHur Industries.

Maynes said the bidding process does not require the companies to hold any such job fairs or to hire a certain amount of local people.

They do have to reach out to the Native American community, which was a focus of each expo.

"It provides a strong preference to Indian organizations and Indian-owned economic enterprises," Maynes said.

Lower Elwha Klallam Chairwoman Frances Charles said the tribe is always encouraging its members to apply for jobs on the dam-removal project and seek the necessary training.

"There's opportunities . . . and we really encourage our tribal members and other nations to apply for them and make a goal of it," she said.

Medrzycki said companies bidding on the project also have to reach out to veteran- and women-owned businesses.

"It is our intention to utilize those people and try to create jobs in that community," he said.

Maynes did not know how many companies intend to file a bid before the Aug. 25 deadline, but said 33 people attended a "pre-proposal conference."

"There has been quite a bit of interest," she said.

Another reflection of interest in the project is the list of potential vendors who have signed up in response to the federal solicitation of bids, Maynes added.

As of Wednesday, 56 vendors -- potential prime contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers -- had expressed interest, she said.

Maynes said a new hatchery is needed because the one in place will become obsolete because of rising river water after the dams are removed.

It is also not large enough to hatch enough of the salmon needed to restore the fish runs after the dams come down, she said.

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Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 20. 2009 9:17PM
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