GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – George County supervisors hope a third round of bids will be more favorable after striking out for a second time to build a Agricola Community Center.

The contractor bids opened March 16 were even higher than the first round despite some scaling back on the blueprints, according to Community Development Director Ken Flanagan.

The Board of Supervisors voted Monday, April 17, to reject the latest bids and search for a third party architect to review the design and propose revisions to cut back on the cost. Biloxi engineers from Pickering Firm are managing the process. They anticipated the total project cost to be about $1.7 million.

The lowest base bid during the first round in January was $1.74 million from Anderson Construction of Lucedale. With add-ons for items like an additional parking lot, asphalt, fencing and partition, the total costs to have all the desired work done was bid at over $2.2 million. Brotherhood Service of Lucedale bid $2.59 million, not including any add-ons.

The engineers revised some fine details of the design like certain kitchen equipment and patio space with hopes the second round of bids would come in at or under budget.

The 7,000 square foot building will have a large assembly hall, conference room, kitchen, an office, storage space, restrooms and covered patio. It will be available to rent for community and private events.

The current design calls for a paved parking lot with security lights that can accommodate about 65 vehicles.

George County Board of Education members voted last fall to allow the facility to be built on property the school district owns adjacent to Agricola Elementary School. The school plans to use it for occasional teaching and event space for its students.

$1.6 million was allocated by the state legislature during the 2022 session. The county received $400,000 in additional funding during the 2023 legislative session to help cover inflated costs. The latest bids were still over those $2 million in available state funds.

The county also received $1.8 million for a 5,000 square foot Barton-Basin multipurpose building on Hwy 63 earlier this month.

A groundbreaking was anticipated for the Agricola building around late February. The board plans to advertise for a third round of bids by June. If they enter into an agreement with a contractor soon after, a groundbreaking could happen later this summer.