Dave Sugar said he's got years of experience with projects such as the ones in question.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners say it's Dave Sugar's work record, not his criminal record, that has them shying away from his bids to do sewer work for the county.
But Sugar says his companies are qualified to do the work and he'll sue the county if they don't hire him.
"I've worked in this community off and on for 30 years. I'm probably the most qualified contractor of this type in the Mahoning Valley," Sugar said. "I usually do the hardest and toughest and deepest jobs."
Two of the companies owned by Sugar submitted the apparent low bids for county sewer projects -- one in Damascus and one on Woodworth Road, which runs through Beaver and Springfield townships.
The sanitary engineer's office has recommended that commissioners bypass those bids, though, and hire contractors who submitted the next-lowest.
County commissioners have the final say and will probably vote next week, said county administrator Gary Kubic.
Sugar said he's done several water and sewer projects for the county and other local municipalities in the past without complaint, so he was surprised when he learned that the sanitary engineer's office was questioning his ability to handle these latest projects.
Hearing: A public hearing was Wednesday, during which Sugar and his attorney, Sebastian Rucci, tried to persuade commissioners that his companies could handle the jobs. Sugar said he has 31 years of experience with such projects and has worked all over the eastern United States.
"We have the experience and we have the people. This is the kind of work we do," Sugar said during the hearing. "I can't see any reason why we wouldn't be considered capable of doing it."
Ed Reese was the only commissioner to attend, and said afterward that he hasn't decided which way he'll vote.
Sugar, of New Middletown, pleaded guilty last year to criminal charges related to his involvement with U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. of Poland, D-17th, and is awaiting sentencing. Commissioners said that doesn't figure into their consideration of hiring someone else.
On schedule: Commissioner Vicki Allen Sherlock said, "It's strictly about workmanship. It's all dealing with his ability to complete work on time."
Sugar is the contractor on a county sewer extension project in North Lima, which is significantly behind schedule, said Commissioner David Ludt. He said Sugar sent commissioners a letter earlier this year explaining that the delay is because of difficulty obtaining a right of way to get onto state property.
Ludt said he'll talk to the county prosecutor's office before next week's meeting to make sure that whatever commissioners do is legal.