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Update: Necaise secures $44M port contract; Fore loses protest

COURTESY OF WARREN PAVING 
 An aerial view at the state port, shot in mid-March, shows construction on the expanded West Pier. Necaise Bros. Construction Co. is working on the pier's west side. Work under a new contract will move to the east side of the pier. It will involved demolition, elevation to 14 feet and installation of infrastructure.
COURTESY OF WARREN PAVING An aerial view at the state port, shot in mid-March, shows construction on the expanded West Pier. Necaise Bros. Construction Co. is working on the pier's west side. Work under a new contract will move to the east side of the pier. It will involved demolition, elevation to 14 feet and installation of infrastructure.

GULFPORT -- The state port's Board of Commissioners on Thursday reaffirmed its decision to award a $44 million construction contract to Necaise Bros. Construction Co., despite a protest filed by W.C. "Cotton" Fore, who was low bidder on the project.

Necaise is completing the first phase of construction at a cost of about $68 million on the west side of the West Pier. James Necaise, who heads the company, said that work should be completed in mid-July.

He expects to begin work in early April under the new contract, which moves construction to the pier's east side. Construction should be finished by September 2017, he said.

"We'll be able to put our name on the whole thing," Necaise said. "When it's all said and done, we can say we built this thing from start to finish."

Necaise Project Manager Matt McVadon said, "We understand that close coordination and communication with the tenants is what will ensure this project goes smoothly . . . We are currently in the process of securing a meeting with all tenants and port operations team to discuss which scopes of construction will directly and indirectly effect the tenant operations and what we can do to minimize these issues. We know that the daily tenant operations are necessary to maintain and promote the economic development of the port itself, and that is something we are excited to be a part of."

W.C. Fore Trucking hauled in the dirt and laid the ground for the pier restored and expanded with $570 million in federal funding provided after Hurricane Katrina.

Fore also was low bidder on both the pier construction contracts, but the port staff found deficiencies in his bids. Fore did not protest the first bid award to Necaise.

On the second contract, Necaise filed the first protest before the bid was awarded, objecting because Fore failed to list his subcontractors.

When Necaise secured the bid, Fore filed his protest. His bid of almost $48 million was $126,766 lower than Necaise's.

Fore's bid was rejected mainly because he failed to list his two subcontractors or file certificates of responsibility for them. Fore maintained he was not required to name the subcontractors and file certificates until the bid was awarded, but port officials contended instructions were made clear in a pre-bid meeting attended by representatives of his company.

Fore could appeal the decision to Circuit Court, but when he was reached by phone after the meeting, he told the Sun Herald that he has not made a decision.

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