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WATER VALLEY – After a year and a half without a county-issued pickup for the Yalobusha Emergency Management Agency, supervisors approved the purchase of two 2022 Chevrolet Silverado HD 4×4 diesel pickups at a total cost of $153,538. Supervisors voted unanimously for the purchase during the June 6 meeting.
The county’s emergency management operations has been without a primary truck since November, 2020, when the former director crashed while responding to a call. The county received approximately $20,000 from insurance for the vehicle that will be applied to the price of the two new trucks.
Stewart Spence was hired as EMA director and Jarred Logan as EMA Deputy director on Feb. 28, splitting the pay of the former EMA director as they each earn $21,500 each annually. Since taking the job, they have used their personal vehicles or a county rescue fire truck until the engine failed.
“We hired these guys and they have an important job to do for the county. They have been using their personal vehicles, buying their own gas,” District 4 Supervisor Eddie Harris noted.
“They have the money in their budget to do it, it is just getting past the cost of it,” Board President Cayce Washington added.
Spence noted that he and Logan talked to dealers across the state requesting bids for the trucks after no trucks were available at state contract price. The bid notice was also placed on the statewide procurement site in an attempt to get, but only one dealer tendered a bid due to the nationwide shortage of vehicles.
“If they are still on the lot,” Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn said as she read the bid aloud.
“We have to get them out of their personal vehicles,” Harris reiterated.
“That is the biggest thing, they are driving their own vehicles,” Washington agreed.
The county received $20,000 from insurance proceeds from the wrecked truck, which will be applied to the purchase. One of the trucks was paid for outright from the EMA budgets and the second one was paid for from the county’s general fund, and will be repaid over a five-year period from the EMA budgets. Supervisors opted to borrow money from the county’s general fund to avoid paying interest to a bank. The in-house financing has been used in other purchases including fire trucks, and the EMA will pay one percent interest back on the loan to the county’s general fund.
Spence and Logan also provided an update on the cost of the replacement engine for the rescue fire truck that failed when they were responding to a call in Tillatoba. Kirk Auto Company submitted the lowest bid, $18,491 to put a new factory engine in the 10-year old truck.
“The engine is ordered and the truck should be back in the station before the end of the month,” Logan told supervisors. He also explained there was no explanation for the low-mileage engine to fail.
“It was full of oil, water and fuel,” Logan explained.
Other activity reported by the EMA directors included:
• The county has been awarded a grant through Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to purchase a generator for $123,767. Spence told supervisors that Frank Hyde, a former EMA Director, had applied for the grant to purchase the generator as a backup power source for the county-owned water system that serves Ajinomoto Foods in Oakland. The portable generator can also be used to power a courthouse or other building during an emergency.
Spence said that the grant started out as a 75-25 match, meaning the county would pay 25 percent of the purchase price.
“Since then it was shifted to a 90-10,” Spence said. The county will pay 10 percent, or $12,376.70, for the generation and MEMA will pay the remaining 90 percent. Spence also said that quick hookups can be installed at both of the county’s courthouses and Ajinomoto to allow fast access if backup power is needed.
Supervisor Washington said the grant application was submitted after an storm on Easter Day in 2020 caused power outages.
“When we had the Easter storm, we worked all night cleaning limbs out of the roads. The next morning we went to Ajinomoto because they were running out of water. We were able to get Lafayette County’s generator and use a licensed electrician to hook it up,” Washington explained.
• Supervisors approved a request from Logan and Spence to change the change the work policy for dispatchers employed by the county. The change will require a doctor’s excuse if dispatchers miss over four hours of work.