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franklin county times

Metro reports on defective ambulances

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
July 3, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors accepted a bid $7,000 higher than the lowest bid on a new ambulance Monday based on problems with ambulances purchased from the lowest bidder.
At a regular meeting, Metro Ambulance Service Director Clayton Cobler recommended supervisors purchase an ambulance from Wheeled Coach Industries for $61,855.
The lowest of four bids came from Taylor Made for $54,820. Richardson Clark submitted a $62,743 bid and Wheeled Coach submitted a separate bid for $63,393 for a more expensive ambulance.
Cobler's recommendation spurred comments from District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell, who wanted to know why supervisors shouldn't accept the lowest bid.
Cobler said Metro employees continue to have problems with ambulances purchased from Taylor Made. The roofs leak, he said, allowing water to get in and cause electrical problems.
He said Metro has replaced three Taylor Made ambulances, and is trying to replace four others purchased in 1997.
Cobler said he instructed an attorney to write the company and threaten litigation for breach of contract.
The company promised to loan Metro a new ambulance and repair the defective ambulances one at a time, Cobler said. Not only did the "repaired" ambulances start to leak a week after they were returned, he said, but the loaned ambulance was a used, early 80s model.
He said Wheeled Coach also guarantees the shortest delivery time, 30-45 days.
Boswell cast the lone vote against accepting Wheeled Coach's bid.
Cobler said an extra $7,000 is "little to pay for a life."
Cobler said Metro's latest purchase was from Wheeled Coach last year for about $58,000. He said the increase to $61,800 is average.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.
On Monday, the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors also:
Held a lengthy discussion about convention and travel expenses, ending with Board President Jimmie Smith's announcement that he will appoint at least two supervisors to a committee to research and review travel expenses;
Hired Rob Seal as director of the Lauderdale County Agri-Center. Seal had been serving as assistant director;
Heard an announcement from District 1 Supervisor Hank Florey that the Lauderdale County Veterans' Services Office has been moved to a new location at the old Metro building at Fifth Street and 22nd Avenue; and
Heard an announcement from District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell that the animal control committee expects to have a new animal shelter recommendation at the next board meeting.