Jones County Board of Supervisors

Jones County supervisors are suspicious that there might be “collusion” in a new way that county equipment is being sold online, so they’re taking steps to to avoid that.

To help avoid that possibility, all company names will be left off of the bids that are placed online for equipment that’s being sold through a reverse auction, the Board of Supervisors determined.

A reverse auction reverses the traditional roles of buyer and seller. The sellers compete to get business from the buyers, which usually decreases the price as the sellers underbid each other.

“It’s a new requirement in counties,” Chief Financial Officer Charles Miller explained. As bids go out on the website, the “vendor name and prices are out there.”

Because of that, buyers who know each other can make agreements to make bids on certain items to lower prices for each other, pushing down the amount the county gets.

“There can be collusion in the bidding process,” Supervisor Barry Saul said.

Miller said, “In reality, it’s not a positive thing for us.”

Supervisor Johnny Burnett made a motion that the company names be left off until the day the auction ends. The board agreed and passed the measure unanimously.

In another matter, Jones County Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna got permission to apply for grants totaling $250,000 to help with the “overwhelming task of replacing fire equipment” as departments get new trucks.

Supervisors also renewed a GO Bond resolution that was established two years ago for the Howard Tech Park when a prospect was looking at locating at the 475-acre industrial site. That prospect “fell through,” but the property is still being marketed to other potential prospects.

“It means you’ll have funding available if an opportunity presents itself,” said Ross Tucker, executive director of the Jones County Economic Development Authority. 

Supervisors also heard a report from Mona Geauthier of Pine Belt Mental Health. She told the board that its facilities had served 2,288 people of all ages over the last year and had put 30 officers through Crisis Intervention Training. 

“This has led to a decrease in the numbers being taken to jail,” Geauthier said, referring to people with underlying problems who instead get help at one of the facilities PBMH operates, Westway or Clearview.

Board member Carey Hauenstein was with her and thanked supervisors for their support.

“Our partnership is invaluable,” Sheriff Alex Hodge said of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department and PBMH. “It’s helped our officers with de-escalating scenes, and it’s a wonderful facility.”

Miller reported that Hodge’s budget was “$400,000 to the good” in the ninth month of the 12-month fiscal year.

Supervisor Danny Roy Spradley asked that an emergency be declared to fix some damage that was caused by recent flash-flooding in Beat 2. 

“Several roads flooded and I’ve got to replace several culverts,” he said, adding that 8 inches of rain fell in an hour-and-a-half in some parts of his district. “One road was blowed in two.”

Miller asked for a list of roads and amounts, and noted that a new law took effect on July 1 that allows board presidents to declare an emergency, so Board President Jerome Wyatt did so.

In other business, Supervisor David Scruggs appointed Jay Scoggin to be appointed to South Central Regional Medical Center’s Board of Trustees. He replaces Frank Therrell, whose term expired at the end of last month.

Supervisors also agreed to make donations to several sports programs an events — $1,000 to the Northeast Jones Touchdown Club, $500 to the Red Skin youth football team at Hoy, $500 to the South Jones Touchdown Club and $250 to the Jones College softball team’s annual golf tournament. They also agreed to make donation to help local youth teams that advance to the Dixie Youth World Series.

The board’s next meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5 at the courthouse in Laurel.

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