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City council awards $51,393 contract to O'Meara

O'Meara has sued or threatened to sue the city of Madras several times in the past few years
News Editor
   April 2, 2003 — The city council has awarded a $51,393 contract to Nine Peaks Construction, a company owned by Kevin O’Meara — the same man who took the city to court over a dispute regarding his Nine Peaks Golf Course.
    At its March 25 meeting, the Madras City Council looked at bids from eight different construction companies for storm-system improvements on Marshall Street and Eighth Street. O’Meara’s $51,393 bid proved to be the lowest among the nine bids. The highest was $125,000.
    O’Meara has sued the city of Madras at least two times, and has threatened several other lawsuits over the past few years that never materialized, city officials have said.
    At the March 25 meeting, Public Works Director Craig Johns recommended giving the contract to O’Meara’s Nine Peaks Construction, noting it was the first public project the company ever had bid on.
    “We spent a substantial amount of time making sure we were comfortable with them,” Johns told the council.
    O’Meara’s bid for the storm-system improvements is $30,000 less than what engineers estimated the project would cost. It includes installing storm piping and catch basins.
    The idea of awarding a contract to O’Meara raised a red flag with at least one council member.
    “The owner of this company has filed several lawsuits against the city,” councilor Mick Goss said to his colleagues. “I have to question: Does that not have a factor here?”
    The other four councilors apparently didn’t think so. They awarded O’Meara the contract in a 4-0 vote with Goss abstaining. Madras Mayor Rick Allen wasn’t required to vote since no tiebreaker was needed.
    Allen said afterward that O’Meara’s prior legal posturing had no bearing on the council’s decision.
    “They’re unrelated,” he said. “It has nothing to do with him as a contractor. Our city engineer reviewed it and he met the qualifications from a legal standpoint.”
    Last year, O’Meara lost his most recent $100,000 lawsuit against the city, which used to lease him half the property his Nine Peaks golf course was located on. O’Meara sued in 1999, claiming the city had violated an agreement by failing to provide him effluent water of the quality and quantity needed to irrigate the course.
    Although O’Meara originally was the plaintiff, he was ordered to pay $73,000 in damages to Madras, which counter-sued. Before the trial began in July 2001, the city terminated O’Meara’s lease and began operating a nine-hole municipal course in competition with Nine Peaks. O’Meara has since closed his course.