Fire truck purchase hits bump in road

Published 12:05 am Friday, December 12, 2014

NATCHEZ — Adams County is still going to purchase a shiny new fire truck.

Just not quite yet.

The truck will be provided to the Natchez Fire Department as part of the 10-year fire protection agreement between the city and county governments. The issue has been raised several times over the last year as city officials have contended the county is being slow to hold up its end of the deal.

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Earlier this month, the Adams County Board of Supervisors authorized County Administrator Joe Murray to seek financing for a new fire truck built by Fire Alarm Fire Apparatus of Houma, La.

The plan hit a snag, however, because the truck was coming from a Louisiana company.

The county’s purchasing clerk called the state finance office to make sure the purchase was in line with state guidance, Murray said, and the office advised her she could proceed if the truck’s price tag was below similar models on state contract.

“They didn’t realize that it was a Louisiana vendor not set up with a Mississippi license,” Murray said.

Because the vendor doesn’t have a Mississippi license, the truck has to be ordered through a standard bid process, County Fire Coordinator Darryl Smith said.

The truck’s total cost was $334,235.

Smith said Fire Alarm can still enter a bid through the process.

After the board members authorized advertisement for bids, Supervisors’ President Darryl Grennell said the board would aim to have bids in by the end of January.

Earlier this year, county officials had said they were waiting to see if they would receive a grant toward the purchase of the truck, but when the grant cycled ended, the county was not included in the awards.

During the meeting, the board also awarded a bridge replacement project on Buckhurst Plantation Road to Coleman Construction of Hazelhurst for $338,112.55.

Chris Dixon with the Mississippi State Aid program — which helps counties build and maintain secondary roads and bridges — said the initial engineer’s estimates were for $140,514.70.

The six bids submitted for the project were all within $50,000 of the Coleman bid,  which was lowest. Dixon said upon review of the bids he realized the state’s estimate was low because it had not included the cost of a temporary replacement structure while the new bridge is being completed.

Normally State Aid would not fund the temporary replacement, but it is necessary because Buckhurst Plantation Road is a dead end, Dixon said.

The project will last for 75 workdays once it starts early next year, Dixon said.