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Council OKs interstate exit design firm

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Nov. 6, 2002
Meridian city councilmen chose a new firm Tuesday to head up construction of a key Interstate 20/59 interchange and it was the same one that spurred weeks of controversy in September.
Engineering Associates will design the interchange at the Meridian-Lauderdale County Industrial Park. The firm was the top choice of a new city selection committee charged with recommending a company.
The decision comes about a month after Smith told the council he would start from scratch in selecting a design firm for the project. Officials said the interstate exit is needed to market the industrial park.
Last month, Smith vetoed the council's choice of a design firm twice including the first time when the council rejected Engineering Associates even though it scored the best before a city selection committee.
Councilmen then chose Engineering Associates.
But the selection process came under close scrutiny of city leaders when they learned the public works director told a selection committee member to raise scores for Engineering Associates.
Smith then vetoed the council's second selection and started from scratch naming a new selection committee to consider proposals.
The new committee included Ward 1 Councilman George Thomas, Lauderdale County District 1 Supervisor Hank Florey, C.D. Smith, Bill Gordon Sr. and Paul Nuckolls.
Engineering Associates was that committee's top choice, edging out Neel-Schaffer by three points.