Only a case is being built 

There’s more troubling news for the general contractor tasked with construction of a multi-purpose building at Minden High School…a project that’s running about a year behind schedule and currently mired in the mud of continued delays concerning money.

ELA Group, Inc.’s first bad news came when earlier this month our parish school board said “no” to the company’s request for nearly one million dollars in additional funds to cover unanticipated price increases. When asking for the additional money, ELA owners Ed Angel Sr. and Jr. dropped the litigation hint.

Now, it looks like the Angels will indeed get a day (or several) in court, but it won’t be the WPSB sitting across the bench. A Monroe-based subcontractor to ELA on another Webster Parish school system project filed suit Thursday, July 20, for monies the company has been owed since January, 2022.

In the suit filed in 26th Judicial District (Bossier/Webster) Court, Streeter Service Electric, Inc. is seeking just a few dollars over $15,000 for “installation of controls and related wiring for HVAC ‘mini-split’ units installed in classrooms.” 

That work mentioned in the lawsuit was part of a parish project seeking additions and alterations to E.S. Richardson and J.L. Jones elementary schools. ELA was low bidder/general contractor. 

In its filing, Streeter claims ELA requested the company to complete work that was not in the original “scope of the parties’ contract” and that Streeter “…received assurances from ELA that it would be compensated for this additional work.” The suit claims ELA continues “…to refuse, without basis…” payment of $15,060 for the additional work.

Your humble observer found this little item in the parish civil suits filings which, by the by, should be published this week. While we found it revealing, there’s probably 13 or so who might find it educational. Parish school board members and Superintendent Johnny Rowland might want to follow this action closely for more than 900,000 reasons.

At its meeting in which the additional money was denied, one school board member asked about an email reportedly from ELA to Rowland in which the company akined itself to the kid on the playground who will take his ball and go home unless the game’s played his way.

That email, in essence, said if ELA didn’t get the money requested the MHS project might be discontinued (abandoned?) and subcontractors might walk off the job. A legal friend believes that could be a firing shot across the bow with splash-down in the courthouse, i.,e., litigation. 

While nothing is proven yet in the civil suit Streeter vs. ELA, it does hint that people are dealing with people who have no problem asking, nay, demanding more money while looking the other way to people with an apparent legitimate claim. But, as noted, the only thing etched in stone in the civil suit is the allegation.

There could be a real dance class in the offing at our courthouse if ELA decides to try and make our board cough up that additional near mill, or if the school board wants to turn the tables on some type of failure to complete/breach of contract case.  

One would have to wear skates to watch ELA play defendant in one courtroom and plaintiff in another. Not likely, though. This could be a two-act play with at least a 52-week run.

Briefly: We read with curiosity the news story of anonymous, threatening letters being mailed not to any person mentioned but to local businesses. That, in itself, is about as odd as an honest member of Congress. 

After working with (not in) law enforcement for many years, your obedient servant understands the need to keep information in-house. Too much gives the advantage to the sought, while too little makes tongues wag. In the case of our unusual anons, there certainly isn’t too much out there which makes speculation difficult. And that’s good.

There is, however, a twist to this little puzzlement. We hear the Federal Bureau of Investigation is working a similar situation somewhere and has taken the driver’s

seat from our local investigators. 

We’re sure the ladies and gentlemen (or whatever preferred references/pronouns/genders) who man (person) the trenches are still dedicated to solving crime. Can’t say the same for administrators. And it’s often the higher-ups who review investigations and determine direction or redirection.

So after getting the ball from our folks, we would be remiss if we did not ask the FBI if it plans to take the Biden or Trump approach to looking into our unknown author’s motives. If it’s the Biden, we might know something before the end of the decade, but certainly not before an election. If it’s Trump-like, the case will be solved quicker’n a minnow can swim a dipper.

And no, friends and fellow observers, that is neither an endorsement nor expression of sympathy for The Donald.