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Motion to rebid jail meals dies

By Staff | Apr 25, 2011

Tom Loveall

At their meeting last Tuesday morning, the Faribault County Board discussed the recent awarding of a bid for providing meals at the law enforcement center and attempted to pass four motions dealing with those bids.

First, a motion by Commissioner Tom Loveall to reopen the procedure and call for new bids for the meals died for lack of a second.

A second motion, made by Loveall and seconded by Commissioner John Roper, called for the board to voice opposition to allowing the kitchen in the LEC to be used for preparation of meals for use outside of the jail.

After lengthy discussion, a third motion was made, seconded and passed to withdraw the motion concerning use of the kitchen.

Finally, a fourth motion was passed after even lengthier discussion. The commissioners voted to table the whole matter until County Attorney Troy Timmerman would have a chance to research if the board can legally make adjustments to an awarded bid.Loveall began the discussion by relating that he and Commissioner Bill Groskreutz, Jr., had held a meeting with staff from Parker Oaks in Winnebago and members of the sheriff’s office.

Parker Oaks is the current provider of meals at the jail, but the food is prepared in their kitchen in Winnebago and brought to the jail in Blue Earth.

The new request for proposal (bid) calls for the meals to be prepared in the LEC, and the kitchen at the jail be equipped for this purpose.

“After meeting with the folks from Parker Oaks, I decided to advocate for their position and ask that we reopen the bidding,” Loveall says. “Parker Oaks was not allowed enough time to prepare a bid for this new procedure.”

Groskreutz responded that he was not sure if two weeks was enough time or not, but he raised another issue.

“We did have a goal to reduce the cost of the meals at some time in the future when we first built the jail,” Groskreutz says. “And to find some way to equip the kitchen.”

Groskreutz also worried about changing the bid procedure after it has occurred.

“My concern is that we not move away from our legal bid process,” he says.

Commissioner Tom Warmka agreed.

“I never want to trash our bid process,” Warmka says. “I’m proud that we have been able to use meals from local Faribault County businesses. But, when we went to a different plan for doing the meals, all businesses could bid.”

After his first motion died for lack of a second, Loveall explained why he thought it wasn’t right for a business to use a county facility, such as the kitchen in the jail, for their own purposes.

“I’m not sure it is illegal or unethical, but I feel we have the right to take a position on this and protect a local business,” Loveall says. “Parker Oaks is getting blindsided by this action. They will be at a disadvantage.”

After Loveall’s motion to oppose use of the kitchen was withdrawn, the commissioners said they wanted to study the matter more closely.

“I think tabling it will give us more time to study the RFP (request for proposal), the bids and the contract,” Groskreutz says.

Sheriff Mike Gormley gave each of the commissioners and the county attorney a copy of the RFP and the two bids which had been received.

However, Gormley says the actual contract with A’viands Food and Services Management Company of Roseville has not yet been received in his office.

“We are expecting to receive it from A’viands later this week,” Gormley told the board.