It was all a big misunderstanding.
That was the reason the East Ridge City Council awarded a bid for improvements to Camp Jordan Parkway last week to the higher of two bids.
In a Tuesday morning Special Called Meeting, the Council formally awarded the bid for the construction project to Brown Bros., Inc. The East Ridge grading and construction company had the low bid of $1.825 million for the widening of the half mile of parkway leading past the Bass Pro Shops development and Jordan Crossing near Exit 1.
During the last regular meeting, the council had passed on the outfit’s bid, citing uncomfortable feelings over an unconsummated deal for property the city was considering with Richard Brown. Richard Brown, it was pointed out by Brown Bros., Inc. attorney Gary Patrick, is in no way involved in Brown Bros., Inc., a company established in East Ridge in 1997 and headed by Bernard “Tripp” Brown and his brother Britt.
“That transaction had nothing to do with Tripp or Britt Brown,” Patrick told the council.
Councilman Jacky Cagle explained that he associated Tripp Brown with the ownership of the property because Tripp Brown had appeared before the Council on Dec. 11 representing Richard Brown.
“During that meeting, Brown Brothers was mentioned by our ex-city manager, and Councilman Gravitt had reiterated that,” Cagle said. “I thought they (Tripp and Richard Brown) were together. I assumed he (Tripp Brown) had part of the property.
“I stand corrected,” Cagle continued. “If I did anything wrong, I apologize.”
Vice Mayor Marc Gravitt said during the Tuesday’s meeting that he had known Tripp Brown’s father through Gravitt Auction and that Gravitt’s wife was Tripp Brown’s stepdaughter’s coach in school. Gravitt said that he knows about family businesses, as many people still associate Gravitt Auction with his father.
Tripp Brown said he understood some of the confusion associating he and his brother’s business with the previous Brown generation. He explained that his uncle, Richard Brown, had asked him to stand in for him at the Dec. 11 council meeting to assist in discussion of possibly cutting a road into the property Richard Brown was selling. Tripp Brown said his knowledge of Richard Brown’s potential land sale was extremely limited.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” Tripp Brown said. “I’m sorry the deal went bad with them. I had nothing to do with it.”
Mayor Brent Lambert said there was no official resolution prepared last Thursday awarding the job to Talley Construction, whose bid was $125,000 higher than the Brown Bros., Inc. bid. City Attorney Hal North said that the item was listed on the agenda as “discussion.”
Mayor Lambert asked for a motion to rescind the vote from Thursday, as a result of “a factual misunderstanding.” That was quickly handled and passed unanimously.
Gravitt then made a motion, which was subsequently approved unanimously, to award the bid for the road improvement project to Brown Bros., Inc. with money appropriated from the State Street Aid fund and a $500,000 certificate of deposit the city had on hand. The City initially had budgeted $500,000 for the project from the Street Aid fund and had a contribution of $500,000 from Hamilton County.
Gravitt then asked if Talley Construction should be notified of the Council’s action in rescinding its bid. Attorney North said he would contact officials from Talley. Interim City Manager Mike Williams said that it was his understanding that Talley had not moved forward in any way on the project.
Tripp Brown told the council that in his company’s bid there was a timetable for improving the road. He assured the council that work could begin immediately and that it would be completed in time for the opening of Bass Pro Shops, which is anticipated in the spring of 2016.