The Herald News

Posted November 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm

The only item of note on last week’s fiscal court agenda was the bid on the NOAA Weather Radios.

As part of the May 2010 flood disaster relief program, the county was approved for a FEMA Weather Radio Initiative grant in the amount of $233,092 to purchase 6,500 National Weather Service radios for every county household and business. The funding breakdown is from three sources: the federal government is contributing around $175,000, with the state 12 percent and the county 13 percent, or around $30,000.

The original plan was for the county to meet its match without great expense by having the radios programmed to pick up weather alerts for Metcalfe and surrounding counties by county personnel. The grant offer was already extended for one year.

The sole bid on the 6,500 radios was submitted by N8 Industries, LLC owned by Nate Froggett of Center, Kentucky. The bid was $233,675, or $39.95 per radio and included pre-programming for 25 counties. (The bid specified 10 counties.) That automatically eliminates the county’s in-kind match and would necessitate expenditure of about $30,000 of county funds. The issue was tabled at the October 14 meeting to allow Judge/Executive Greg Wilson to negotiate with Froggett.

On Tuesday, Judge Wilson said that after negotiations the bid was reduced by $3,700 or to $35.37 per radio.

Magistrate Dale Rowlett was not impressed. “I don’t think so, it’s still taxpayer money.” The county has until December 17 to purchase and pay for the weather radios or forfeit the grant money.

“Where you only have one bidder then you have to do something with that bid,” Wilson responded. “If we just reject this bid because of price, because (DEM Director) Emory (Kidd) told us we could get them for $25 somewhere else, you’re probably going to have these people suing the county.”

Metcalfe County Road Foreman Roger Poynter said he had purchased a weather radio for $34.95, spurring a discussion as to why making a bulk purchase of 6,500 radios wouldn’t give the county a much lower cost.

There is also the reality that in some places in the county reception for the weather radios is poor or nonexistent, and that many people already have a weather alert feature on their cell phone, Ipad, etc.

Exasperated, Judge Wilson said, “It’s going to be either do it or don’t do it and be done with it. If Emery said he could get them for $25 why didn’t he have that person to bid? Emory was anticipating that nobody was going to bid.”

“If we send it back they’ll just give (the money) to someone else,” Wilson said. He emphasized that time was short for purchasing radios and closing the deal before December 17. “I don’t want to take this up again.”

Discussion continued with magistrates reluctant to take action. Finally, Rowlett made a motion to table it until the November 10 meeting with all magistrates voting yes.