Commissioners extend one contract, approve rebidding of another

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners talked contracts, bids, live streaming and land use changes when they met in regular session on May 18.

A one-year contract extension was requested by Emergency Management Director Lynne Abel for Wheeler Emergency Management Contractors who has been overseeing all the county’s FEMA work since Hurricane Michael. Commissioner Wesley Griffin requested to hold off on the vote until he could gain more information from Abel and the Clerk of Courts office for clarification purposes.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to extend the contract for 90 days to allow Griffin the time he needs. Commissioner Alan T. Bush was the sole no vote. The matter will be brought back before the board at an upcoming meeting when commissioners will decide to either grant an extension or rebid the contract.

A feeding contract extension for Hickory Properties, LLC was up for vote on the consent agenda but was relocated to the agenda for further discussion. Hickory Properties has had the contract to feed county workers during long work hours since June 2020. When the bid was initially advertised, only two companies submitted with Hickory Properties being the low bidder.

Commissioner David Corbin pointed out that the original bid was done during COVID, and many businesses were not open and therefore unable to bid. In the end, commissioners voted to place the contract out to bid once more to allow local companies the chance to bid.

Director of Human Resources Wendy White was asked to provide the board with an update on the status of live streaming commission meetings. White said staff members were being trained to run the equipment and programming.

“We are about 60 days out from being able to live stream, tentatively,†White said. “We just have to finish up training and set up.â€

County Planner Dawn McDonald presented two land use changes for agriculture/silviculture to general commercial. The first was a 99.90-acre parcel and the second was for a 6.79-acre parcel, both in the southern/central area of the county. Commissioners approved both requests.

In other items, updates on county parks were presented to the board. All brick-and-mortar bathrooms at every park in the county are functionable and are on a scheduled rotation for upkeep and maintenance. Cameras have also been placed at each park and are in good working order. A schedule for making upgrades to the parks has been established and includes paint, walls and playground equipment. Board members were pleased to hear the positive news.

The commission will meet again in regular session at 9 a.m. June 15.