New jail meal provider

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 5, 2016


Board okays new jail meal provider, road equipment

By Rupert Howell
Supervisors unanimously approved Bim Bam Burgers’ bid of $1.30 per meal over current concessionaire ABL’s bid of $1.19 with Bim Bam owner Antonio Barragan explaining that his bid offered the county 45 percent commission on sales of concessions that would, “swallow up the difference,” in the per meal quotes.
A motion by Supervisor Donald Phelps passed unanimously after Barragan noted he used to cook for jail trusties and worked in the kitchen for ABL. He told supervisors that by accepting his bid, “You save money and you make income,” referring to the percentage of revenue to be earned on concessions.
That revenue is put into a special fund to be used to benefit prisoner needs, according to Phelps, who said later that he really didn’t think the county needed to leave money on the table by accepting ABL’s bid.
Supervisors on Monday went through traditional monthly business during their Sardis meeting prior to going into a budget meeting to discuss road and emergency management department budgets.
The Bim Bam Burger owner noted his familiarity with the jail kitchen and knowledge of prisoner and trusties’ needs and requirements made him, “The better man for the job.”
Prior to opening his own businesses, Barragan worked with two concessionaires who had the jail feeding contract.
During that meeting Road Manager Lygunnah Bean received the go-ahead to purchase several pieces of new equipment as well as permission to hire two additional employees.
Bean’s equipment list included a service truck, patching trucks, a small dozer and two tractors, all to be paid with funds from the current year’s budget.
Bean told supervisors there was no way he could replace two employees and stay within his budget. Bean and County Administrator Kelly Magee had previously arranged to pay the two employees from the bridge fund after supervisors questioned if he had enough personnel to do the job.
“You’ll never see Lygunnah Bean go over his budget,” Bean told supervisors explaining that he went by numbers on his budget’s spreadsheet. “It’s the only way I know to do it.”
Bean and board president Cole Flint disagreed briefly on the amount of work being done by county employees with Flint stating that he had watched employees from afar who didn’t appear to be working efficiently.
Flint noted a recent event, “There’s a damn ditch by my house that’s worse now than when they started.”
District One Supervisor James Birge noted that when the road crew is working, “They’re working,” with at least two other supervisors voicing similar opinions.
“I must be wrong,” Flint added.
Bean went on to say that the road department has less debt and more and better equipment than since 1994 when a windfall of funds from FEMA following an ice storm allowed Panola County to pay off debt, replace old equipment and buy new.
“I realize I got five bosses,” Bean told supervisors adding, “I’m never going to be your boss.”
Singling out Flint specifically he continued, “You are my boss and I respect each and every one of you.”
Following Bean’s budget proposal and equipment purchase approval, Emergency Management Director Daniel Cole’s request, among other items, was $23,000 or one-half of the estimated cost to move emergency dispatch operations from the David M. Bryan Justice Complex on Highway 35 north to the Emergency Management Building (old National Guard Building) in Sardis.
Cole also had requests for pre-fab sheds or covering for equipment stored at the Sardis facility as well as creating two positions to assist with clerical and the additional workload faced by his department.
The Emergency Management Director was quick to add that he realized not all requests could be fulfilled.
Cole also led the discussion with Medstat ambulance service who provides Panola County with ambulance service with three ambulances located in Batesville and one in Sardis.
Cole complained that wait times were sometimes too long and staff was not always on the same page with emergency responders.
Operations manager David Eldridge said the average 13.4 minutes response times were “pretty good” considering the size of Panola County. Actual times varied with 17.3 in North Panola, 14.4 in South Panola and eight minutes in Batesville where three of the four ambulances are based.
Cole cited three instances when responses were 45 minutes or greater with Eldridge agreeing that was too long and citing unusual circumstances in some of those cases. He explained the company’s system of sharing ambulances with adjacent or nearby counties also served by his company.
Board President Flint asked for a financial analysis of placing an additional ambulance in Panola County and Sheriff Dennis Darby asked for MedStat officials to meet with dispatch and deputies to better communicate.
The discussion revealed that medical workers and drivers are sometimes reluctant to go into certain areas and ask for sheriff department escorts. Cole noted that escorts sometimes are not needed and tie up resources or deputies who are needed elsewhere.
“A lot of it is communication with the dispatcher,” Sheriff Darby noted but added, “A lot of times you get there and they will steal your stuff off your truck (ambulance). It happens in Memphis a lot.”
Eldridge also revealed that under new regulations, “We can now take you to a hospital that treats your trauma rather than (being required) taking you to the nearest facility first.”

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