Emergency responders in Sampson County will soon be receiving more equipment, including mobile data terminals and laptop computers by way of a Department of Justice grant and two ambulances — one remounted, another new — budgeted in the county’s current fiscal plan.
A grant, in the amount of $10,350, was received by way of the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance FY 12 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.
Formally accepted by the Sampson County Board of Commissioners recently, the grant will go toward the purchase of mobile data terminals and laptop computers.
The Edward Byrne Memorial JAG Program allows states and units of local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and improve the criminal justice system, some of which could have environmental impacts. Grant funds can be used for local initiatives, training, personnel, equipment, supplies and other needs in criminal justice.
Sampson County, as stated by the project director, Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope, will use the grant to purchase law enforcement equipment, to include 10 mobile data terminals with modern laptop computers. The goals of the project is to enhance police investigation capabilities and officer safety.
That goal will be fulfilled at no cost to the county, said finance officer David Clack, who noted that the grant is an allocation that does not require a match.
“This is nothing we rely on every year,” said Clack, “but is typically for equipment purposes.”
In addition to buying equipment for investigations and officer safety, the county is taking steps toward increased public safety with the purchase of two ambulances, one being a remounted truck.
The board recently approved proceeding with the purchase of the ambulance and the remount for an existing ambulance using the “piggy-back” method authorized by N.C. General Statute. Emergency Management director Ronald Bass identified two recently awarded bids to purchase the items.
In July, the Iredell County Board of Commissioners awarded a bid to Northwestern Emergency Vehicles to remount three ambulances and, on Oct. 1, the Surry County Board of Commissioners awarded a bid to Northwestern to purchase a new ambulance.
“We are requesting permission to advertise pursuant to the General Statute and will bring the results back to the board at the December meeting,” Clack said. “The General Statute is entitled ‘The Waiver of Bidding for Previously Bid Contracts,’ and it does represent equipment or apparatuses, not construction. It’s basically another option we can use as opposed to taking the specifications and going out and doing the bids ourselves.”
Two ambulances were approved, along with additional full-time and part-time paramedic positions, as part of the 2012-13 county budget.
“The piggy-back for the new truck is from Surry County and the remount is from Iredell County,” said Bass. “We are looking at purchasing both of the ambulances from Northwestern Emergency Vehicles, as they have agreed to sell us a new ambulance and do the remount for $200,000.”
Clack said that consisted of $120,000 for the ambulance and $80,000 for the remount.
The statute does require that the county advertise the “piggy-back” as it would any formal bid, which would allow another vendor to offer an alternative. Another vendor could go lower, or Northwestern could offer a reduced bid.
“In this case here, we’re talking about two North Carolina counties who have recently gone out to bids for the items that we’re looking for,” said Clack. “They did a formal bid process, advertised and evaluated the bids and awarded them. We go with the exact specifications that someone else did, so we’d be getting the exact same vehicles that the other counties got.”
It allows the county to fulfill bid requirements, while saving time and staff resources.
“It saves time,” said Clack. “These bids have been done in the last 12 months, and that’s the only way you can do it. We’ll advertise this like we would anything else, so if somebody else comes up with a better deal we can certainly abandon the piggy-back method and accept their bid.”
That includes any other vendors that previously bid on those contracts in Iredell and Surry counties.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.