Bay County Courthouse Annex Land Still Sits Empty

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PANAMA CITY - A Destin construction company could lose the contract to expand the Bay County Courthouse because of delays and cost overruns. Some Bay County commissioners are apparently regretting their decision to hire Yates Construction to manage the project.

Right behind the Bay County Courthouse sits a large plot of land covered with dirt and rocks. It's supposed to be covered with the beginnings of the new Bay County Courthouse annex.

County commissioners hired Yates Construction out of Destin last april to build the annex, but so far there's been nothing but problems.

"We haven't had any conversation with them. There's been no difficulty communicating. There's been no communication, but the things I'm wanting to hear, I'm sure they didn't want to tell me," said George Gainer, a Bay County commissioner.

Yates Construction managers disagree, saying they've been giving updates to county officials.

"We've been communicating since day one. We continue to work in a positive fashion with them and communicate with them," said Mike Lovrekovic, Yates' area manager.

County commissioners also say Yates has gone 2 million dollars above the 12.5 million dollars they'd budgeted for the additional courtrooms and offices. Lovrekovic says his team is rebudgeting the expansion plans since county officials and judges agreed to downsize the building.

"I think everybody knows that this project is top priority and everybody's got to work quickly to try to get it moving," said Lovrekovic.

Commissioners are growing impatient.

"Well I think the world is ready to get this going and get it done and either Yates, or whoever is second on the list or third on the list or start all over, if we have to. We'll do whatever we need to do to get this courthouse built," said Gainer.

Yates Construction managers say once they renegotiate the contract with the county, they'll have roughly 30 days to begin construction.