SHAMOKIN - Residents of the Harold E. Thomas High Rise will have things a little easier when they want some fresh air in their rooms thanks to a window replacement project.

The Shamokin Housing Authority, the entity that operates the facility at Sunbury (Route 61) and Dewart streets, will replace approximately 240 windows, most of which have been in place since 1987, in a project estimated at $151,833.

The new windows are a combination of aluminum framing and wood, similar to windows installed as part of an expansion project at the building in 2005.

"The new fixtures have a lift ratio of about 5 pounds to the user and can tilt out for ease of cleaning," Miller said.

It's difficult for residents to lift and clean the current windows, which also aren't very energy efficient, he said.

Member abstains

The winning bid, selected at a special meeting of the authority on May 9, was submitted by R.C. Rhoades Contracting, owned by Shamokin City Councilman R. Craig Rhoades, which won out over nine other companies.

Rhoades is also a former member of the authority board and his wife, Carmella S. Rhoades, currently sits on the board.

Miller said Craig Rhoades followed the bidding rules to the letter, and deserved the same opportunity as any other contractor.

"He came in, picked up a bid specs package and submitted a proposal like everyone else," Miller said.

To make sure there were no other problems, Miller contacted the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development.

"Just because a relative sits on the board in a non-compensated position doesn't mean we can restrict him from bidding on it," he said.

The bids had been opened at the authority's April 28 meeting and all were immediately turned over to the authority's architectural firm, which tabulated and studied the proposals. At the May 9 meeting, the firm gave its recommendation to award the contract to Craig Rhoades' firm.

Miller said Carmella Rhoades did not participate in the board's discussion, and the bid was awarded by a 4-0-1 vote with her abstention.

In the composite windows selected for the project, Rhoades was the lowest bidder by approximately $20,000. The next highest was from Redstone Co., Wapwallopen, which bid $171,000, and the others ranged from $199,000 to $293,794.

On the proposals for vinyl windows, two companies, Atlantic Coast Window and Doors and Window World, were lower at $96,315 and $97,900, respectively, to Rhoades' $113,702.68

Just the first step

Despite the bid approval, construction won't start anytime soon, Miller said.

"We need to get clearances and insurance letters for the project, not to mention making arrangements with the manufacturer for the windows, and then get installation times," he said. "This was just step one of the process."