Weather Forecast


Sandbag removal under way in Fargo

FARGO - It doesn't appear Fargo students will be needed to help clean up sandbags.

A Middle River, Minn., company moved into Fargo on Monday morning to start removing sandbags.

Spruce Valley Corp. officials expect their 25 employees, who are working seven days a week, to wrap up work in three weeks.

"We're raring to go," said project coordinator Rodney Olson, adding that he likely won't need to hire additional personnel to handle the cleanup of bags from streets, front yards, side yards and boulevards. "For the time being, we're covered with our own personnel."

Then, once the company finishes Fargo streets, workers will go through again to clear sandbags from backyards.

That's when they might need to recruit local workers, but it isn't likely, he said.

The $1 million contract Spruce Valley signed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers includes both work removing sandbags from streets and backyards.

Spruce Valley, which is three hours northeast of Fargo, was contracted by the corps on Friday to oversee the sandbag removal in Fargo. Contracts for removing sandbags in Moorhead are expected to be awarded this week.

Olson predicted that some may get upset that his northern Minnesota company isn't local.

"I anticipated that reaction, but this was open to anybody to bid it," he said.

Olson said the company did emergency flood cleanup work in Grand Forks, N.D., after the 1997 flood and has done flood mitigation work in northern Minnesota.

"We're definitely pretty qualified to handle this," he said. "We appreciate the opportunity to get the work."

Spruce Valley was selected because it was the lowest technically acceptable bidder, said corps engineer Melissa Gulan. She didn't know who the other bidders were.

"We only release the low bidder," she said, adding that if their requirement was just to select the lowest bidder, then they'd have to release all bidding companies' names.

"They had the lowest price, and they had the equipment and resources to complete the work," she said of Spruce Valley, which will be paid by each ton of sandbags removed.

The removal of clay levees was awarded earlier to Davidson Ready Mix and Construction Inc. of Newfolden, Minn., in a $3.26 million contract. A $1.8 million contract for removing Hesco levees was awarded to Specialized Contracting Inc. of Fargo.

Gulan expects the company that will oversee clay dike removal in Moorhead to be awarded today. Cass County contracts will be awarded later this week.

The only locality requirement is the company is from one of the disaster area counties, she said.

"We are from out of state, but it was an open contract for anybody that was qualified to bid on it," Olson said. "We bid 'em to get 'em."

What homeowners need to know

* If homeowners don't want the contractors in their yards removing sandbags, Army Corps of Engineers officials advise they bring sandbags out to the street.

* Fargo residents who signed a "Right of Entry" form to allow the corps to enter their property are being asked to post the pink copy of the form in a window or where it is immediately visible as those coming around for flood cleanup.

* Property owners who built private levees on their property are also being asked to remove and place materials on the public right of way for removal.