As soon as officials with Surry County and Mount Airy agree on how to fund the Interstates Sewer Project, we learn the engineering firm chosen by the county for the work is, quite literally, coming apart at the seams.
County Manager Chris Knopf said this week that Hobbs Upchurch Associates, an engineering firm based in Southern Pines, is losing so many members of its staff — including some who have worked specifically with the county on this project — that it may not be able to complete the work. This leaves the county, and specifically the residents and businesses to be served by this project, in the lurch through no fault of their own.
We don’t really know what’s going on with this company, and in large part it doesn’t matter other than the firm agreed to do some critical work for the county and now cannot do so, likely delaying the eventual work on the project.
So what to do? There is no easy answer. The county must now determine if the firm can, eventually, fulfill its legal obligations and then stand as a follow-up source of support. Surry County officials almost must decide even if the company can eventually do the work, would it be quicker to wait upon the people there or faster to rebid the project and start over with another company, or if it can cobble together a combination of the work already supplied by Hobbs Upchurch Associates with that of another engineering company.
We do urge all parties involved — residents, companies, and Mount Airy officials — to have some patience with Surry County as Knopf and his staff work through his morass. And we hope folks at Hobbs Upchurch and Associates understand if they are unable to complete the entire project, Surry County should recoup any money it has paid for the work, especially if the county has to find another firm to step in and finish the job.