MOUNT VERNON — Knox County government has announced that the Ariel Foundation has expressed a firm interest to assist the county in funding its plans to build a maintenance facility building to house county equipment such as plows, riding mowers and maintenance vehicles.

Knox County Commissioners opened two bids for the project Thursday, with Modern Builders offering the lowest bid — a base bid for the 1,700 square-foot building of $580,200, and an alternate bid of $61,460 for a carport project.

“Per the plans we recently shared with the Ariel Foundation, they have extended an invitation to the Knox County Commissioners for the county’s new East Chestnut Street maintenance facility,” County Administrator Jason Booth said. “We are working together to finalize a grant partnership for this project. Through collaboration, this will enable the county to add the attached carport area for additional work and storage space, and meet the desires of Mount Vernon’s Historical Review Commission, given that this project site is located in the (city’s) historic district.”

Booth said the county had budgeted about $450,000 for the project, while knowing the price could be higher. Modern Builder’s entire bid including the building and carport is $641,660. So a partnership with Ariel Foundation to help with costs, while keeping county maintenance equipment housed in a building that conforms with the city’s historic district guidelines, benefits the county, the city, Ariel Foundation, and all area residents, he said.

Booth noted that the Ariel Foundation has partnered with the county to help fund numerous projects critical to the operation of county government, one of the most prominent examples being a gift of $2 million to help fund renovations to the former Central School, an overall $4 million project turning the structure into the future home of the county board of elections and Knox County Veterans Service Office.

“Ariel Foundation has expressed their excitement to be a partner in creating these shared wins, helping to meet the county’s needs for development of its campus of services, plus meet the desires and tradition that the City of Mount Vernon embraces through designs that respect our area’s history and architecture,” Booth said. “The board of commissioners are grateful for this partnership and appreciate Ariel Foundation’s support in moving this important project forward.”

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews