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County port authority bid not conflict

It is not a conflict of interest for the Lawrence County Port Authority to bid on a non-emergency transport contract, the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office has told the Lawrence County Commission.

The commission recently opened bids from three companies seeking a contract to provide non-emergency transportation to Department of Job And Family Services clients — transportation to and from kidney dialysis visits, or doctor’s appointments, for instance.

The lowest of the three bids was submitted by the Lawrence County Port Authority.

County officials requested the prosecutor’s opinion as to whether the port authority would have an unfair advantage over competitors and if awarding the bid to it creates a conflict of interest for county officials.

“… no conflict of interest is presented in connection with the Lawrence County Port Authority’s participation in this invitation for bids to supply non-emergency transportation for your agency, and while the Lawrence County Port Authority does arguably have a competitive advantage in view of its designation as recipient of federal transit administration formula funds, that advantage is neither unfair nor does it undermine the integrity of the competitive bidding process,” Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Jeff Smith said in a letter to JFS Director Gene Myers.

Commissioner Jason Stephens said he didn’t want to make a big deal of the matter but, “I tend to believe the port authority’s role is in trying to partner with people to bring in more jobs” rather than in seeking such contracts.

In other matters, Commissioners agreed to send a letter to Lawrence County Engineer David Lynd regarding the condition of County Road 103.

Commissioners expressed pride in Monday’s Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade.

“I think the parade was excellent,” Commissioner Doug Malone said. “It just makes you proud of this area.”

Stephens paid tribute to the local historian Virginia Bryant, who died Saturday at the age of 82. Bryant was the author of several local interest history books and was instrumental in organizing the iron furnace festivals and in saving the first county jail at Burlington, which will someday be used as an underground railroad museum. She was also active in the Lawrence County Historical Society.

“She was involved in the 100th birthday celebration for the courthouse last year,” Stephens said. “She donated one of the original lights back to the county when we re-did this (conference) room (in the commission chambers).” Stephens noted that Bryant was the widow of the late Louis Bryant, who was a county commissioner for 16 years.

Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Dale Burcham said his office has already collected more than $100,000 in real estate taxes for the second-half tax collection period that began last week. Burcham said anyone who does not get a tax bill this week should call his office at 533-4304.