Got to thinking about this the other day because Dwayne Johnson, who is in a runoff for Precinct 2 County Commissioner, came by the house bragging about how the golf course and other businesses are essentially self-paying without using any county money. The idea is that all profits and expenses come, not from line items in the general Somervell County budget, but from the Enterprise fund. In the past, the golf club did not make enough money to run without additional moneys from the general budget. The way the County Commissioners have proposed to fix it is by selling booze and pushing through grills and restaurants run as businesses by Somervell County, pushed through with minimal public involvement and costing lots of money. But does that include spending tons of money on projects such as the pavilion/grill? I mean, if you're going to brag about money coming in, shouldn't all money going out be factored in?
That includes what is now a restaurant at Squaw Valley Golf Club called Rooster Bar & Grill. How exactly did it come about and what was the process for building it:?
Setting the stage that anything the commissioners court does is with YOUR (and MY) tax money. The agendas for the commissioners court need to be specific enough so that any citizen can look at them, see what is going on and make at least somewhat of an informed decision whether they would like to attend. The problem with this Pavilion Remodel, to me, is not that the initial Hey, Fix the Roof and add a wall around it, plus let's fix the bathrooms, was not a good move to make, but that actions after that were made without a clear, voted on-plan, on the basis of commissioners talking about changes, vaguely, in meetings, and without an RFP for additional changes, including restaurant equipment, television sets, etc, but instead *change orders". Imagine that you were having something remodeled in your property and the contractors just up and decided they would add some stuff, didn't let you know explicitly what was going to happen, had no drawing of the changes where you could confirm (or were difficult to find) and okay them, and then you got the bill. It is not enough to say that Somervell County residents voted these people in, so anything they do after that requires them not to inform the public or make decisions without real transparency. The taxpaying public gets to KNOW that our money is being spent on and how much, etc. Maybe everyone would want to have a restaurant, maybe citizens would like to weigh in about what kind of windows or other facets of the construction, but until this was basically a done deal, NOTHING apparently used the word restaurant in any public agenda or minutes until into 2020.
Keep in mind that the county is deciding to be in business on property that is tax exempt and if, say, a business or restaurant was built across the street from the golf course, that business (suppose a restaurant) would be in competition with the grill, and would have to pay property taxes. (Much the same situation that Oakdale was in when the City of Glen Rose decided to buy it and run it as a business. There were a number of businesses that were unhappy with Oakdale's plans to add additional RV spots to adjoining property, particularly since they operated the park at a lower rate than other businesses. For example, Danny Chambers at that point had an RV site business on Hwy 67 that was put in competition with Oakdale and also spoke out at the Somervell Commissioners meeting about the RV spaces being put in at the Expo Center in 2010) Feb 2010
First time I could find any reference to a grill/restaurant was with regard, not to a restaurant, but to an open air pavilion and bathroom. The open air pavilion, as I understand it, was falling into disrepair, plus there was a desire on the previous manager's part to add some sort of semi-walls around it to help keep the wind off since it was outside. Saying that the original bid to fix the pavilion was to add some walls to the pavilion and some restrooms.
Starting out with a definition of what a pavilion is:
The idea of fixing up the pavilion seems to have been first put on the Somervell County agenda on May 14, 2018. Item #6 was "Discussion on RFP's related to the Pavillion at the Golf Course. Renovations will include metal removed and new metal added on the north wall; five double pane windows and two roll up doors will be added. No action taken". So no vote to actually start the RFP at this time, but had they done so, it would NOT have been to make a restaurant but fix the roof, put some metal, presumably for a roof on one side, add some windows and a couple of doors. There is no audio available for meetings in the year 2018.
Following is walking through the agendas and RFPs to try to find where the restaurant was explicitly discussed (not a vague Golf Course Projects) on the agenda, what the plans looked like, how the public could see them and weigh in, etc.
Summit Construction Group submits scope of work for pavillion "Looking forward to doing business with you"
Nov 19, 2018 Item 3 was "Discuss take action on construction of new rest room facilities at the golf course". Clearly this took priority over the pavilion, but again, no mention of any restaurant.
Dec 3, 2018 #2 "Discuss/Take Action on Selection and Engagement of Construction Manager for Project at Golf Course". Stopping for a moment to say that this is a terrible description for the public. It possibly violates the Texas Open Meetings Act by not being explicit about *what* project at the golf course. Since there was also something involving a pump station at one point, no one who might want to attend a meeting based on the description would know exactly what was being referred to. Which project was this construction manager being engaged for? All of them? Only one or two? Which ones:?
Dec 3 2018 #1 - "Discuss/Take Action on Authorizing RFP for Project at Golf Course". Again, what project?
Dec 3 2018 -Notice on the page where the commissioners signed the motion to get RFPs that the motion explicitly says "Solicit RFPs for Pavillion and the restrooms;. The Pavillion Project". Note again, nothing about a restaurant
According to this page within the Dec 31 2018 meeting, a copy of the specifications for this were available from Lesley Jameson of the County Auditor's office. So I have done an open records request to the Auditor's office asking for that.
Bid in the newspaper for the Golf Course Pavillion Remodel and Renovation
11/8/2018-here is the bid from Summit Construction Group-does not include anything about a grill
Dec 17, 2018-Last day for bids to come in, which would be opened at Commissioners Court
Dec 31, 2018 - "Award Bid for Pavillion Remodel and Renovation" Don Gill recommended accepting the bid from Two Brother's Construction for -Vote was 5-0. Also doing an open records request to see this winning bid and what it entailed.
1/21/2019 Item 17 Fence for Golf Course, #18 Equipment Rental, #19 Rates and Fees for the Golf Course, #20 Expo Rates and Fees. Mentioning this here because this is a project for the Golf Course, right? Fixing or replacing the fence? So if there is something on the agenda that vaguely says Golf Course projects without specification, it might include the fence.
1/28/2019- a project pertaining to a fence at the golf course contract on the agenda. This is actually good because it is clear reading this that this particular project isn't about, say, the restrooms or the pavilion, but about the fence.
11 Feb 2019 #5 Discuss and Receive Updates on Golf Course Projects. C'mon. If you're looking at this, do you know WHICH projects these are? Would it have been too much effort for whoever drew up this agenda (was it Danny Chambers?) to add a short description of the projects, like Fence, Pavilion, Pump Station, Buying more land for the golf course, etc. Maybe you would only be interested in attending if it was about the pump station.
Hulsey: They poured the slab last week and started the frame this morning and restrooms... they said they'd get the restrooms all dried in and everything.
Chambers: Is he still working on schedule?
Hulsey: bridges secured
19 Feb 2019 #8 Discuss/Take Action on Future Improvements at Golf Course . Dwayne brought this up. Apparently he went out and conferred with Jeff and Duff to get them for buy in with making part of the pavilion into a grill. Note again that there is NOTHING about a restaurant or grill or making changes to the original RFP to add a food area. Apparently Johnson brought in a scribbled doc where he sort of laid out what he would do, on a piece of paper. Also, looks like Hulsey is concerned that Johnson is running ahead on his own to make plans that might possibly confuse the contractor (Don). So, Johnson was running around talking to the contractor, to Jeff and to Duff and did not make sure even that the agenda had what he was doing disclosed to the public ahead of time.
Johnson: Larry's done a great job working on the bathrooms and all that stuff. After talking to Jeff and Duff both, decided to come up with a way to get the most use out of the pavillion. There's been talk before about creating a grill area where people would be able to get food and keep it away from the pro shop... Came up with a plan since already working on the restrooms and pavillion, cut the building in half, make one half a grill, other half for scoring on golf tournaments, drew up a rough look of how it would look. Kitchen area here, serving area here. Got most of the structure there, close in front walls, make it a usable area. should help golf course where it can stand alone without help of the general fund. ... Place for people to hang around, talk, get ouf of weather, sandwich, like at expo center, if we get bell tower town down, twice as much room at pro shop. Bridge is taken care of, this part here is center of everything.
Chambers: Pump station, demo
Hulsey: haven[t discussed we have two more restrooms. Dwayne makes a good presentation but I have other thoughts. Kitchen were bell town torn down.
Chambers: Do you want to start getting prices?
Hulsey: At this point, I think we need to go ahead and finish what we got started. We may run out of money, we're worked hard to get this expo and this new fence may have to put more fence up. ... Want to see what is going to cost, want to find out. Already decided may not have those doors in there. Windows don't have to be framed in right now. .. also getting kitchen out of merchanside, I don't agree with that. To me if you're gonna eat, you eat where you can see the merchandise.
Johnson: Duff signed off on this, Jeff signed off on this.
Hulsey: Can see out. Glassed in dining room where you see the golf course. We still keep a going. Soon as we get these rest rooms finished.. Court may be split, Jeff, better watch what you answer
Jeff: This is court property and whatever y]all decide. Either way, huge improvement to walk into a pro shop that will be organized, more inviting. By moving kitchen to pavilion, put some merchandise there. Place they can go get a sandwich for lunch
Hulsey: If you can look through a window or door, where they're eating they may buy something.
Chambers: See what both would cost.
Move forward on pricing to see what this would cost.
Some kind of dissension between Hulsey and Johnson re: confusing the contractor "I don't want you out there doing something on your own"
3/6/2019. Here, as apparently done by Don Gill is a printed plan for the grill area, including seating and restaurants. Keep in mind no one had voted for this BEFORE this document. (Summit Construction Group)This was before the March 11 2029 meeting in which Johnson broached the idea of adding a grill area. Who asked Summmit Construction for this and were taxpayers charged for this BEFORE it was voted on?
Mar 11 2019 - #21 Discussion take action on Demo of Bell Tower and Canopy at Golf Course #22 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavillion Remodel at Golf Course
Johnson: See what we could accomplish by moving the kitchen area, more like a grill area, adding another 10 foot on the slab for people to sit, split pavilion on half, completely enclose that for $235,000. Actual bid was $187,000 plus Don't percentage and bonding the job fluff out down to $164k.
Chambers: Allow Don to send out for bids and receive bids.
Hulsey: We can[t discuss this in public but we can discuss the pavilion like we was talking about. I thnk it's a little premature to go out for bidding, you want to close in the whole pavilion now. You gotta staff it, that would include the kitchen.
Johnson: You know the staffing part, like I was telling Duff, we can grow into that... appliances, stuff to run the kitchen part, vented hood, grill, fryer, refrigerator, freezer, just not that big an expense.
Hulsey: Depends on what you do.
Johnson: Pavilion enclosed ... it's a step going in the right direction
Hulsey: Wall, I think step going in the right direction is Not spending a million dollars on the golf course.
Johnson: We're in the business.
Hulsey: We need some kind of estimate on heating and cooling. Not jsut throw something out there and we gotta go on with it.
Johnson: the future is we get this going correctly and we increase the golf course revenue by $100,000.
Hulsey: You may be correct but Duff siad there's no way he can put it on paper that it will make money. We need some kind of estimate before we go any further. what is our goal? Are we going to do away with the clubhouse one of these days?
Johnson: I reserve comment
Hulsey: We're turning pavilion indoor. we're going to have two heating and cooling. Where are we going:? What's the future?
Johnson: Area where Duff does staging golf tourns. Plus, area can be utilized for other things, rented out.
? We're not in the business of renting out.
Johnson: Minimal cost,
? Electrical expense, I don't agree with it.
Hulsey: Ice chest :).
Johnson: Let Don go out for bids, firm up what this would be based on this job site.
Hulsey: Can['t discuss, if this motion passes, can we find out about the other option. I'm all for upgrading.
Chambers, need to get expense from Don's company to do this, need to pay him. Look over what each gentleman wants? Bring it back in April and compare. Kitchen needs to be added.
Watts: not going to be advertising for bids until we know what the bids are Don gets. Asking Don to give us a price.
Johnson: Going to have to be bid regardless. Don can only receive bids.
Hulsey: We don't need to be bidding out two different projects. We need more details before going out for bids. .. What is your vision?
Johnson: One of these days the clubhouse is going to go away. Can set this up, place for people to go, have refreshments, never seen a golf course that doesn[t have a clubhouse. .. Missing out on big opportunity to make more money. County shouldn['t be in business, but we are in business. .. Let me finish, get every dollar so the golf course can stand on its own, close to breaking even...
Hulsey: Put that on paper, put some estimates, Ken and I were part of why turned around, not adding expense. You want to add expense, put it on paper.
Johnson: I can make it as pretty as you want it to look, but I don't think that accomplishes anything.
Chambers, Don, bids on the pavilion, compare hulsy and johnson on the 28th.
Watts: do it one bid. Option b to do Larry's.
Hulsey: Something else we might want to think about. Wait till budget time. Money in Texpool
Chambers: Jeff_ where are we on the pump station.
That was bizarre. They did not do an RFP or RFQ FIRST after deciding and voting on exactly what would happen in the future and instead were going to pay the contractor Don to receive *bids* on an action that had not been decided and voted upon, ie, wouldn't that actually be an RFP? This action certainly was not approving any bid because they dang well had not decided, besides Johnsons efforts to bully his own viewpoint through, on what should happen with the Pavilion. Can you imagine trying to get people to bid out a job you have with costs on your house where you have not yet decided what exactly you are going to do?
Mar 14 2019 - #6 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course . From the minutes "Motion was made by Dwayne Johnson and seconded by Larry Hulsey to approve the change order on the contract on the pavilion remodel at the golf course.
Motion carried. All voting aye".
Johnson: Had Don going out for bids on what it was going to cost to remodel the pavilion
Watts: We already have a contractor out there that has begun work, including this as a change order to existing contract. Already have one that has begun work, run possibliity of a different contractor starting mid-through. Change Order modification.
Kenneth: Does that ensure we're getting the best price
Watts: Changing the finish out to where we want it to be. Diverting to a different direction. I had not seen final numbers of official change order
Chambers Motion to move forward with a change order?
Wait Wait Wait. Is this approving a bid for a pavilion remodel or a change order for contract? What specifically was in the change order? Not in the minutes packet and there was nothing on the agenda about a change order for presumably existing contract from 2018. I believe that this did not accurately reflect what was actually going to happen and should have been put on the agenda as a change order for the next meeting. Also, what exactly was in this proposal? Last meeting was a disagreement between Hulsey and Johnson but I heard nothing here that specified that the disagreement was solved and one view or the other was going to be used. Cost? Materials?
Mar 28 2019- Item 6- Commissioners Precinct 2 (Dwayne Johnson). Discussion/Take Action on Approving Bid for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course. Item #7 - Approve County invoices for Golf Course Pavilion Work.
No audio for this., however, there is nothing that shows Approving Bid in the minutes. There is "Motion was made by Kenneth Wood and seconded by Wade Busch to approve payment of two invoices from Two Brother's Construction for $25,978.37 and Summit Construction for $5,437.50 for the golf course pavilion remodel. Motion carried. All voting Aye
April 8 2019 - #10 - Discuss/Take Action on Kitchen Equipment for the Pavillon at the Golf Course #11 Discuss/Take Action on Approving Bids for Pavilion Remodel at Golf Course. #12 Moving money from contingency account to 010-429 for expenses? Minutes show that Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by dwayne Johnson to obtain prices for kitchen equipment for the Golf Course Pavilion Project. Discoveries will be brought back to court for review before purchase. Motion carried all voting aye. Motion was made by Dwayne Johnson and seconded by Larry Hulsey to accept bids from Comfort Pros in the amount of #31,212.00 for the air conditioning system and Howard's Electric in the amount of $22, 375.00 for the electrical work for the pavillion remodel at the golf course. Motion carried. All voting aye.
April 29, 2019 #3 Discuss/Take action on budgetary items dealing with golf course- VAGUE
May 6, 2019 #5 Discussion/Take Action on purchasing equipment for the Pavilion. Minutes show "Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by Dwayne Johnson to move forward with purchasing the pavilion kitchen equipment from Cowtown Restaurant Supply in the amount of $20,236.92. Motion carried. All voting aye. What was odd about this agenda item is not just that it was unnecssarily vague but that the commissioners and Chambers talked about other stuff THAN the restaurant equipment. If the purpose of the agenda item was to discuss restaurant equipment for the Pavilion, that should have said so, but instead other related topics were also discussed. Watts, former auditor, reminded Chambers that talking about TexPac was not on the agenda.
Also, and I do not know much about the process of buying equipment, but this seemed odd to me, maybe someone that can refer to what the law says can cite a source. The original project for the pavilion, which did not include any type of grill, was put out for a bid, won and came in with a number somewhere around $90,000. There was even a contractor hired for this. In this particular instance, about restaurant equipment (see invoice below) which totaled around $20,000, Dwayne Johnson and Wade Busch drove around the metroplex to some suppliers to get quotes, and settled on Cowton Restaurant Supply. They decided between themselves, apparently that Cowtown had the best prices, and they brought that to the court, rather than, say, getting an RFP. Now, bids only have to go out for projects, etc above $50,000 BUT if this is considered part of the Pavilion project, did the new items that were changes to the original contract also have to go out for bids, since they were part of the overall price? Also, and maybe this is how it is done, but it seems strange to me to have commissioners go out and sort of decide on their own what equipment to buy without bringing it to ALL the commissioners. Also, in what world were either Johnson or Busch considered to be restaurant and cooking equipment experts? Since taxpayers were already paying for a contractor for the project, why was he not in charge of investigating additional restaurant equipment and then bring his suggestions to the court?
7/15/2019 Cowtown invoice for restaurant equipment
Aug 26 2019 Item 8 "Discuss Take Action on repairs to rest rooms at the Golf Course
12 Nov 2019 Wild Hog issue at golf course #18 Discuss Take Action on Tables and Chairs for Golf Course Pavilion
1/9/2020/1/13/2020 #11 Discuss Take Action on purchasing equipment for Golf Course Pavilion Item #11 Motion was made by Wade Busch and seconded by Dwayne Johnson to approve purchasing television equipment for the Golf Court Pavilion from vendor SLG for $5,162.97. Motion carried, all voting Aye.
May 11 2020- Discuss Take Action on Job Description for New Rooster Manager Position. Discuss Take Action on creating a cook position for the Rooster at the Golf Course.