The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 30, 2012

Jasper County Commission to consider contract for jail repairs

Sheriff continues to oppose proposal

By Susan Redden
news@joplinglobe.com

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Jasper County Commission will consider a contract for county jail repairs Tuesday, but Sheriff Archie Dunn said Monday that he’s no closer to agreement on the repair plan.

Commissioners a week ago had looked at approving a contract with Cornerstone Detention Products, of Tanner, Ala., to do the work, but delayed action after some language in the proposed pact needed to be revised.

Darieus Adams, Western District associate commissioner, said a new version of the contract was received last Wednesday and a copy was sent to the sheriff.

“We haven’t heard anything from him,” Adams said. “We’re hoping he’s at peace with it. I anticipate we’ll be talking about it, and if there are issues raised, we’ll try to address them.”

Dunn said he continues to object to the proposal from the firm chosen by the commission “because it’s too expensive; I just don’t think it’s a wise use of tax dollars.”

Dunn has said another company — Simplex-Grinnell — has offered to do the work for a much lower cost. The company did not submit a proposal along with other bidders, and commissioners have said the county would have to seeks bids again if it considered an offer from a third company after prices from the two others that did make proposals had been made public.

“I would think they’d rather work with someone closer, they’re from Springfield, and they put in the original system,” Dunn said.

The sheriff said he has talked with representatives of the firm, and “and they’re interested in doing the work.”

John Bartosh, presiding commissioner, said earlier he is certain the firm knew the county was seeking proposals, because he talked with a company representative at the time.

Questions to Simplex-Grinnell in Springfield were referred to the firm’s corporate office in Massachusetts. Chris Woodcock, a corporate spokesman, called Jasper County “a long-standing customer” of the firm.

“We originally installed the original electronic locking system and the fire alarm system at the jail,” he said. “We want to support this customer and we have in fact submitted  quotations and pricing to Jasper County representatives for upgrading those two systems.,” he said.

Woodcock would not respond to questions about why the firm did not submit a proposal when they were sought by the commission, saying “we have provided quotations to Jasper County representatives, and we stand ready to support them.”

Dunn said Simplex-Grinnell would do the work for far less than the Cornerstone price of up to $861,000.

Commissioners have said the price is the maximum and they expect the final cost to be lower. The panel plans to pay for the project over a period of four years and has set aside $137,500 in the Law Enforcement Sales Tax Trust Fund budget this year. Commissioners have said they are looking at borrowing money to cover the balance. They also  have stressed that the expenditure will not reduce for sheriff’s office operations.



Lawsuit

Conflicts concerning the operation of the jail and who is responsible for those decisions, and for paying maintenance costs are among the issues cited in a lawsuit Dunn has filed against the commission.