Court decides bid winners but still refuses one

By Roxanne Thompson, Staff Writer

Limestone County commissioners court determined the winners of the annual bids at their July 25 meeting, except for oil-and-sand mixing, to the dismay of one of the commissioners.

This is at least the third year that the court has refused, in a 3-2 vote, to consider accepting a bid by a professional to provide oil-and-sand mixing if needed.

Their reluctance dates back to years ago when the county’s pug mill – a device that mixes oil and sand for use on surfacing roads – was broken, and the county bought all its oil-and-sand mixed by a man who specialized in making this product.

One year, in an attempt to save money, the commissioners insisted that the pug mill be repaired so the county could prepare its own. The old pug mill was in an advanced state of disrepair, so the project took months, but the old pug mill finally started working again. Now the commissioners have agreed that the county needs a new pug mill, but that is going to cost about $300,000.

Commissioner Pct. 4 Bobby Forrest and County Judge Daniel Burkeen voted to accept the bid on the oil-and-sand mixing since the pug mill is in such bad shape. Last year, because the pug mill was broken down, Forrest could not get a road in his precinct repaired before the fiscal year ended, which left money stranded in his account.

When the other court members, Commissioner Pct. 1 John McCarver, Commissioner Pct. 2  W.A. “Sonny” Baker, and Commissioner Pct. 3 Jerry Allen all voted not to accept the bid, Forrest expressed his frustration and said he could not understand their reasoning.

“We turned that down the last two years,” Forrest said, “because we had the thought that if we had this as a backup – we don’t have to use it – that we would use it was a crutch not to fix our pug mill. We have now fixed our pug mill. The same thing could happen that happened last year. We could get toward the end of the year, need to do some roads, and the pug mill could be broke down. Then we would be at the mercy of bringing somebody in at whatever rate they wanted to charge because we didn’t have a bid.

“It doesn’t cost us anything to take the bid,” Forrest continued. “We don’t have to use them one day. Jerry (Herin, Road Administrator) is not going to use them unless it was an absolute emergency. I don’t understand why we wouldn’t have this as a reserve at $7.30 and maybe have to call them and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to have you because our pug mill is totally broke down.’ I realize we want to buy a new one, but we’re $300,000 from that on a tight budget year. It doesn’t hurt to have this as a backup if we absolutely had to have it.”

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