May 16, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

Call it a spendy lunch hour, if you like.

The City of La Grande awarded nearly $7 million in contracts during its special meeting at noon Wednesday.

W.C. Construction and its architect, Meier Enterprises Inc. of Kennewick, Wash., were awarded the $1.5 million contract to design and build a two-story, 18,500-square-foot fire station on Cove Avenue.

The city bought the land near the Cherry Street intersection for $200,000.

R&G Excavating Inc. of Scio was the winner among 16 bidders for the first phase of the wastewater treatment facility. The bid was for $5,226,552, well under the engineers estimate, which was more than $6.4 million.

The city will continue to negotiate with the fire hall contractor in hopes of getting the cost down below the $1.5 million mark.

Im confident we can get it down, said City Manager Wes Hare. We havent identified $155,000 worth of savings, but I believe we can do so without dipping into the contingency fund.

Work should begin soon and be completed by the end of the year.

The wastewater improvements, mandated by the federal government, include building lagoons and wetland improvements and running a pipe 3 miles from the plant to the wetland site near Hot Lake.

Weve been in the planning stages for two to three years, and its exciting to be going ahead with this, said Public Works Director Dan Chevalier.

Dec. 31 is the target completion date for the first phase of the wastewater treatment facility