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Luck of the draw

Two construction companies want the same job. Both submit the exact same low bid. What do you do?

Let 'em flip for it.

That's what officials from the Gwinnett County schools, northeast of Atlanta, decided earlier this month when faced with the unusual situation.

Bowen and Watson Inc., of Toccoa, Ga., and Salloum Construction of Athens, Ga., both turned in bids of $6.986 million to build a large, two-story classroom addition at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee.

But who would call heads or tails? Representatives from the two companies decided to roll the dice. But it took four rolls before one person came up with a higher number.

The representative from Bowen and Watson called tails. The quarter came up heads. Salloum was awarded the contract.

With more than 93,000 students, the Gwinnett district is the largest and fastest-growing in the state.

Under the law, the district had three options. Casting lots was just one of them. Officials also could have rebid the project or they could have split the project between the two bidders.

The new classroom building is scheduled to open in fall 1999.

Move over, Wheaties

The gold-winning U.S. women's Olympic hockey players aren't the only athletes smiling from the cereal aisles of grocery stores these days.

Thanks to a school-minded entrepreneur, local high school athletes in 48 states are sharing grocers' shelf space, beaming from the boxes of Hometown Stars cornflakes.

The cereal is the brainchild of Chuck Fleming, 52, a former North Dakota state representative who began the Bismarck-based Carlisle Cereal Co. after seeing a Wheaties box bearing the picture of North Dakota's lieutenant governor, a mock-up that General Mills had done as a courtesy for attendees of a government conference.

"It dawned on me," Mr. Fleming said, "that the Michael Jordans of the world shouldn't be the only people who get a cereal box."

Schools and grocery stores pair up to sell the cereal, he said, with many local markets handing the profits over to schools.

And although the cereal isn't cheap--at $5 for an 18-ounce box, it sells for about twice the price of a comparable box of brand name cornflakes--Mr. Fleming says that business has been booming.


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