By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

KEMPNER - Kempner's city council is positioning itself for ligation against the general contractor who recently built its new city hall if the structure is not repaired.

"We hope that it doesn't have to go all the way to court, but we are prepared to do that," said Kempner Mayor Gene Isenhour. "My responsibility is to make sure the citizens' investment in that building is protected."

The council has been trying to make Gene Doss Construction Inc., the general contractor for the less-than-year-old $369,000 building, pay for repairs to the city hall for damage the governing body started to notice in April.

On Tuesday, the council decided to give the city's attorneys the ability to investigate the pending litigation.

"At this point, we were just authorized to seek ligation to get the building repaired," said Paige Saenz, an attorney with Austin-based McKimae Krueger, which represents Kempner. "We just got the files and the information and are reviewing what the next steps would be."

The damage included hairline cracks in the council chamber and courtroom walls and a sticking door.

Dennis Dyke, the building's engineer at Hewitt-based Abacus Engineering Inc., said in April the temperature change from a dry summer to the cooler rainy season caused lumber shrinkage, and that the damage was mostly cosmetic.

He also said his firm measured the foundation to make sure it had not shifted. He also expected the contractor to make repairs to the building since it was under warranty.

"We have given Mr. Doss every opportunity to correct the problems, and from what we could tell, he was refusing to do so," said Isenhour about the decision to move forward with seeking litigation. "Our one-year warranty would expire in September, so what we are seeking is just good business practices."

Saenz said if a lawsuit is filed against the contractor, it will be filed in the local district court.

The 27th District Court has jurisdiction over Lampasas County.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.

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