Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County Emergency Management (EMA) team continues to move forward with preparedness for the future.
Throughout 2017 and 2018 Fannin County’s EMA made steps to secure the safety and readiness of the department due to projected growth in our area. Grants were applied for and received to better equipment our emergency personnel, and purchases were made by the county to handle residential expansion.
While disasters are rare in our area, they can happen and our EMA is preparing for an all case scenario.
Fannin County EMA Director Robert Graham approached the Fannin County Board of Commissioners (BOC) earlier this year to seek approval for obtaining bid contracts that would take effect if a situation arose that required more than the county is equipped to handle.
At the Nov. 27 BOC meeting Graham was present to open sealed bids that had been received.
The number of bids was surprising as Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss opened a total of nine packages received from disaster relief businesses across the nation.
“Did you tell these people that we have golden roof tops up here or something?” Post 1 Commissioner Earl Johnson joked as the bids were opened.
“I wish we could have gotten this many bids on anything else we do,” Johnson added on a serious note. “In six years, I have never seen this many bids.”
Graham explained the purpose of the contracts: “This is bids for pre-contracts that would be in place in case we have a disaster. We do not pay anything at this time and unless we activate the contract we don’t ever pay anything. It’s there in case we need additional resources to help remove a lot trees, a lot more than we can handle with our own resources.”
According to Graham the debris removal goes beyond just downed trees, it could include garbage, housing material, or hazardous waste to name a few.
Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton added about having a contract in place, “This is really just to put us in a position for additional federal funds.”
“It’s nice to have this in place,” Graham stated verifying Helton’s comment, “It makes us eligible for an additional 2 percent of disaster match money, should there be a disaster.”
The following companies responded to Fannin County’s request for this pre-contract bid:
Cres Environmental Services (Sarasota, Fl.)
Custom Tree Care Disaster Response (Topeka, Ks.)
Disaster Debris Removal (Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.)
DRC Emergency Services (Galveston, Tx.)
Graham County Land Company (Robbinsville, Nc.)
KDF Enterprises (Alpharetta, Ga.)
Southern Disaster Recovery (Washington, Ga.)
Phillips and Jordan (Knoxville, Tn.)
TRF Enterprises (Lanier, Tx.)
No action was taken in awarding a winning bidder for this contract. Graham requested time for his team to thoroughly review each bid, stating that credentials and references would need to be confirmed: “We’re going to have to vet the companies and make sure they are qualified to provide these services and that they have resources to provide the services as they say they do.”
Graham hopes to have a decision made to present to the BOC during one of the January 2019 meetings.
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BLUE RIDGE, Ga.—Oct. 9 Blue Ridge City Council came together Tuesday evening to vote on the approval of a new bid for propane gas.
During last month’s meeting, council members Nathan Fitz and Ken Gaddis questioned the propane bid from Appalachian Propane. The council chose to open the bid and read a price of $1.44 per gallon.
At that time, discussion between the council members and Mayor Donna Whitener, led to Council Member Fitz making the motion that they ‘table’ the propane bid for the next meeting.
After putting out another bid for propane rates, the city of Blue Ridge received one more bid from Ford Mountain Propane for a rate of $1.09 per gallon.
Council member Gaddis commented, “This is the gas company that the school board uses. They’ve used [them] over the last 3 years.”
Mayor Whitener responded, “And I did call Appalachian Propane because I was asked to do that to see if they could match [the price] and because Japan is getting all the excess gas—they think they’re even going to have a shortage of gas—they couldn’t match the price. I just hope the other company makes sure they have enough gas for us, if they reserve enough.”
Council member Robbie Cornelius responds, “[They] never got to my house to install it…in over 9 or 10 months. I called 7 or 8 times and so I’m not really happy with them.”
Mayor Whitener, “Do I have a motion?”
Council member Cornelius, “And the school board uses this propane now?”
Mayor Whitener responded, “That’s what Ken said.”
Council member Fitz asked, “So, the school board uses them and everything’s fine?”
Council member Gaddis responded, “Yes. They [the school board] just renewed their contract with them [Ford Mountain Propane].”
Council member Gaddis made the motion that the board accept Ford Mountain’s bid and council member Fitz seconded the motion.
Appalachian Propane has been the previous supplier for gas for the city of Blue Ridge and its employees for the last several years. Last calendar year, the city of Blue Ridge put out a bid for gas—as per usual—and where they normally get at least three bids back, this time, they only received one bid from Appalachian Propane.
While discussing Appalachian Propane’s bid, new council members wondered aloud what the current rate was. Now, the city has the option to not reveal the single bid so that they may rebid, however, the city council and Mayor Donna Whitener decided to publicly state the amount of the single bid. Had the newer council members known this, they may not have asked to hear the current rate.
Even though propane prices are based on an open market, some council members were unsure about the current propane rates. This year’s propane price is $1.44 for City and $1.54 for employees.
Council member Nathan Fitz asked, “And what was last years rate?”
After some digging, Finance Director Alicia Stewart found the price which was reported as $1.04.
Council member Ken Gaddis asked, “Can we do that again [send out another bid]?”
Council member Rhonda Haight responded, “To be honest, it wouldn’t really be fair if you went back and asked for a lower rate now, but what you could do is hold off and renegotiate. Call the owner and see if he would renegotiate this. If not, just, it is what it is.”
Council member Ken Gaddis replied, “So can we table it and reach out to them and see if there’s any other rates we can do?”
Council member Haight responded, “We could actually make a motion probably to do it at this rate or a lower rate, but then, he wouldn’t change it would he? [after a comment within the council] Yeah, I’m recused.”
Council member Fitz made the motion, “Okay, I’m going make a motion that we table the propane gas 2018-19 quote until next month.”
Council member Gaddis second’ the motion and then they discussed whether or not there was an ‘official’ contract between Appalachian Propane and the city of Blue Ridge.
A city official responded that there may not be a contract because Blue Ridge usually goes with the bid that offers lowest rate.
Where will the Blue Ridge Council members go from here? Stay tuned for next month’s council meeting.
On Tuesday, March 6th, the City of Blue Ridge opened bids for the work on the Train Depot. (more…)