HOUSTON – Carrson Neal with Cook Coggin Engineering of Tupelo, has been named the county’s engineer of record.
The motion to hire Neal was made by District 4 Supervisor Jerry Hall and seconded by District 5 Supervisors Russell “Wolfie” King. The motion passed without dissent.
Cook Coggin Engineers, Inc., is a general civil engineering firm established in 1946 that has developed a reputation with state and county governments, municipalities, rural communities and industry. Headquartered in Tupelo, they have regional offices are in Booneville, Corinth, New Albany and Ripley.
Neal assumed his responsibilities with the county earlier this month. He replaces Chickasaw County’s previous engineer Ed Springer.
The county did not give a reason for the change.
Springer was at the center of a lawsuit involving the county and the resurfacing of County Road 4 almost three years ago. The county closed that project at their June board meeting in Okolona.
That project rose to prominence after Ausbern Construction was awarded the contract and did the work, but had to sue Chickasaw County for cost over runs on the project. A Lafayette County jury ruled Ausbern Construction was due $570,293.60 in costs and damages in the suit that stretched over two years.
The jury’s verdict specified the county must pay Ausbern $387,793.60 in construction costs and damages. The jury also awarded Ausbern $182,500 in damages from Chickasaw County Engineer Ed Springer.
At the heart of the case was the payment for grading and resurfacing 1.39-miles of County Road 4. Ausbern’s bid of $396,566 for the work was accepted by the county and awarded on Nov. 23, 2010.
Ausbern Construction is owned by the family of former Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors Attorney Elizabeth Ausbern. That circumstance prompted the county to hire the firm of Carnathan & McAuley, of Tupelo, to handle legal duties for the Board of Supervisors. Ausbern no longer serves as the board attorney.
The political nature of the case prompted the court to change the venue and move the trial to Lafayette County.
Chickasaw County’s attorneys and Springer’s attorneys repeatedly said they followed procedures established in the state’s “Green Book” for state-aid road projects. The defense said a supplemental agreement – similar to a change order — was necessary to pay for the excess work done by Ausbern and no such document was ever drawn up.
Ausbern’s attorneys said after the trial the supplemental agreement was never drawn up by Springer and the county never asked him to create one.
Springer admitted in court he figured the project incorrectly and felt Ausbern should have been paid for the work he did.