Sutter County supervisors awarded a contract to Hilbers, Inc. this week for reconstruction or the Casa de Esperanza building in Yuba City, which was heavily damaged by fire in 2016.

Tuesday’s vote was unanimous, following a month of talks between the county’s insurance agent – Trindel Insurance Fund – the local construction company and representatives from the nonprofit. Hilbers’ initial bid was $1.4 million, but the county’s insurer felt the bid was too high and suggested the county re-advertise for the project to see if they could get it done cheaper. 

Before doing so, supervisors directed all of the parties to work on a compromise, which ultimately resulted in Hilbers reducing its estimate. 

“We are really glad to be working with Hilbers. This is a huge hurdle that we’ve overcome, and we can’t say enough about the board for approving this,” said Marsha Krouse-Taylor, executive director of Casa de Esperanza, which provides shelter and services to local victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. “…We have had so many supporters throughout this process, with people showing up to meetings and contacting their supervisors. This has been a very long process, but we can’t imagine where it would have gone without all that backing and support from the community.”

The April 2016 fire damaged portions of the Yuba City facility’s first and second floor, as well as portions of its roof. Since then, Casa has been operating out of temporary quarters provided by Adventist Health/Rideout. Krouse-Taylor said she doesn’t know where the nonprofit organization would be right now if it weren’t for the local hospital’s generosity throughout the process.

It’s unclear whether or not the insurance company will reimburse the county for the entire cost of the rebuild. During negotiations, they verbally agreed to cover up to $1.1 million, but nothing concrete has been put into writing. Interim County Administrator Steve Smith said the county is working with insurers on a couple different options.

In order to not have to go back out to bid, which would have delayed the process further, the county will submit a deductive change order to reduce the cost of the original bid down to $1.255 million. Once that is completed, Smith said, work can begin.

“I want to say how incredibly grateful I am. This has been an ongoing process here, and we finally get to put this thing to bed,” said Supervisor Mike Ziegenmeyer. “…This is a good thing. It’s going to take care of a lot of great people in this community.” 

The facility’s redesign only allows for 24 beds (down from 48 beds before the fire), so while Casa de Esperanza representatives are excited to make it their home once again, it will likely only be temporary until they can find a long-term fit that has more beds and space for programs and counseling, Krouse-Taylor said. 

“As for us, we will begin working on putting some things into play. We will be going into that building without any office equipment or furniture. One thing we do have covered is the bedrooms, as far as beds, chests and drawers, but everything else will have to be replaced,” Krouse-Taylor said. “We are hoping we can go to the community and have different agencies, clubs and individuals assist us in that, whether it be through adopting a room or a desk or a staff member.”

She said Casa de Esperanza will begin drafting a registry that people or groups can sign up for to help fill in the missing pieces when they arise. She said they aren’t looking for donations just yet because they don’t have the space, but they will need them down the line. Those interested in helping can contact Casa’s Deputy Director Betty Nelson at 674-5400. 

“I’m glad to see we’ve finally taken a step forward, and we’re glad that (Casa de Esperanza is) going to see some light at the end of the tunnel,” said Supervisor Ron Sullenger.

Casa de Esperanza representatives hope to be back in the building within the next few months.

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