Emergency Deal Puts
by John Trumbo
Armed security guards were back on the job Thursday at six Columbia River system dams managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
A Federal Way security company, Doyon Logistics Services, has been given a three-month, $190,405 contract to take over security guard services at McNary, Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, Lower Granite and Dworshak dams.
Security at those dams had lapsed since the first week of September when the government canceled its contract with Seattle-based HWA Inc. because it had defaulted on the contract.
Gina Baltrush, spokeswoman for the Corps Walla Walla District office, said Doyon's short-term emergency replacement contract runs through December, when the original contract with HWA was scheduled to end.
She said the Corps will call for competitive bids on a new security guard contract to take effect then.
Restoring security services means visitor center access and private vehicle crossings of dams, where possible, were reinstated -- except at Ice Harbor Dam where limited Corps staff requires early closure of the visitor center. It normally closes Oct. 31 for the winter months.
Baltrush said the powerhouse viewing room at McNary Dam also has been reopened.
Dam-crossing schedules for Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams can be obtained by calling 888-DAM-INFO (888-326-4636).
Most of the guards previously employed by HWA have been rehired by Doyon.
"Two of them had already found other jobs elsewhere, but we were able to hire everyone else," Brent Meisner, general manger and vice president of Doyon, said in a statement released by the Corps.
"The guards had all the required certifications, and we were able to coordinate and mobilize them within two days of the contract award," Meisner said.
The Corps terminated HWA's contract Sept. 3 for failure to meet contract terms.
Several of HWA's former employees have told the Herald they received paychecks that bounced and hadn't received any wages since the end of July.
Baltrush said the Corps has communicated with Department of Labor officials to help the former HWA guards receive the wages they earned under the previous contract.
And Rep. Doc Hastings' staff told the Herald he also is working to get the Department of Labor to cover the back-pay problem.
But Department of Labor officials in Seattle say they cannot advance the back pay until after completing an investigation into why HWA didn't pay its employees. And there is no estimate on how long that investigation could take.
"One of the possible remedies would be recovery of back wages. But we have a case going on and I am precluded from giving any more information," said Michael Shimizu, spokesman for the Department of Labor in Seattle.
No one from HWA has returned repeated phone calls from the Herald to the company's office, the owners' home and their cell phones to comment or answer questions.
As a result of HWA's default, visitor areas at two dams and privately owned vehicle crossings at three dams were without guards. The Corps diverted staff to maintain access over the Labor Day weekend but then closed secure-access areas while the Corps sought a replacement contractor, Baltrush said.
For more information about Corps and other federal agency contract opportunities, go to the Federal Business Opportunities website, www.fbo.gov.
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