County votes to end jail food contract

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Many employees wear multiple hats at their work places, filling in for a sick colleague or covering a position until someone new is hired.

Employees of the Warren County Jail wore multiple hats Friday when a cook for the food contractor charged with preparing meals at the jail failed to show up for work, requiring county employees to help warm up and distribute meals to the inmates, according to Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace.

“Several incidents, including but not limited to staffing issues, made it necessary to replace the food service provider,” Pace said. “Anytime a contractor is not providing service in a manner that was provided in the contract there is a mechanism to replace that contract. It’s built in to ultimately protect the taxpayers of Warren County. It’s a relatively painless process for everybody.”

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At the request of County Purchasing Agent Tonga Vincent, the Warren County Board of Supervisors voted Monday morning to give the jail’s food service provider CBM Food Services, based in South Dakota, its 60-day termination notice for breech of contract.

The board also authorized Vinson, who is charged with issuing the 60-day notice and finding a new food provider, to contact the alternate food service contractor in order to see if it would be interested in taking over food service at the jail at the rate quoted in 2014, when the service was last up for bid.

If the alternate is not prepared to take over food service immediately or another contractor must be found, the board passed an emergency declaration, allowing Vinson to find a food provider to fill in any gaps between contracts.

“If that time comes, we can proceed with whatever we need to do to get the inmates fed, whether it’s fast food or contracting with someone else or buying groceries or whatever we need to do,” she said.

Vinson said she plans to begin the process and notify CBM and the alternate food provider as early as Tuesday.

“We have 140-something inmates that we have to feed three meals a day, 365 days a year,” Pace said. “That has to work efficiently.”

In other news, the board:

• Accepted petitions to expand the Fisher Ferry, Culkin and Bovina Fire Protection Districts. The petitions were signed by at least 25 residents affected by the expansion, which would add to existing districts “due to public convenience and necessity,” Board Attorney Blake Teller said. “The expansion is economically sound and desirable.”

District 1 Supervisor John Arnold said the expansion was needed to fill in gaps in coverage.

“As the map showed, there was a hole in the middle, so the middle wasn’t covered,” he said. “Now they will be all connected. Residents (affected by the expansion) will have to pay a tax accordingly, but their home owners insurance will go down.”

The board will hold a public meeting for those interested in the proposed expansion of any of the fire districts on June 30 at 9 a.m. in the board’s public meeting room on the third floor of the Warren County Court House, 900 Cherry St. Pending no objections at the public meeting, the expansion will then be approved.

• Approved bids for the Old Highway 27 Bridge Replacement, the Fisher Ferry Bridge Channel Stabilization project and the Kings Point Ferry.

The Old Highway 27 bid was awarded to Unicon Inc. for $545,181.05. The Fisher Ferry Stabilization project bid was awarded to Anderson Contracting LLC for $318,153.58, and the bid for the Kings Point Ferry was awarded to Big River Shipbuilders for $249,725.

The projects will take approximately three to six weeks to begin while contracts are drawn and paperwork is finalized, according to John McKee, county engineer.

• Authorized Board President Richard George to sign an order that directed BancorpSouth to transfer $2,057.86 from accounts previously under former circuit clerk Shelly Palmertree to the County General Fund in order to offset debt she owes after being found guilty of embezzlement.