The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 19, 2007

Northern Cambria school board member comes under scrutiny

NORTHERN CAMBRIA — A Northern Cambria school board member here may face ethics violations after disclosing he “donated” the use of heavy equipment to a school-renovation contractor prior to the bid process.

Delvin Lockard challenged fellow board members Tuesday to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission, because he says the verbal deal with Mid-State Construction of Altoona was legal.

The company is the general contractor for a $14 million renovation project that has been under way at the elementary-middle school for about a year.

Lockard abstained last year from voting to award the contract to Mid-State due to a “possible conflict of interest.”

He is the 30-year owner of D.L. Lockard Construction, which specializes in cement.

The donated equipment is problematic because it could have enabled Mid-State to submit a bid lower than it otherwise might have been able to. Further, in a phone interview Monday with The Tribune-Democrat, Lockard said his company is a frequent subcontractor for Mid-State Construction.

According to Lockard, his employees were hired by Mid-State, and a machine worth about $1,000 per day in rental fees was used to pour the new gym floor.

Ed Cunnings, the district’s clerk-of-the-works, could not immediately be reached by The Tribune-Democrat to determine how many of Lockard’s employees were temporary hires, or to detail specific equipment used on the job site.

“I could have made good profit on that job. But I couldn’t because the ethics commission wouldn’t make a decision whether I could (subcontract for Mid-State),” Lockard said.

“I did not get a dime or a promise of any jobs,” Lockard said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Director Ralph Butterworth questioned why the district did not benefit from Lockard’s goodwill, as a cost reduction.

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