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County officials revisit jail meals in on-line session

Bid package for jail food will be rewritten and advertised

In its first ever on-line meeting, the Letcher County Fiscal Court voted unanimously to rescind the winning bid to provide meals to inmates in the Letcher County Jail that was placed by CANE Kitchen of Whitesburg at last month’s meeting.

Letcher County Jailer Bert Slone told the court that CANE Kitchen would not be able to meet the nutritional requirements set by the state of Kentucky for the amount per meal in last month’s bid, and said a search for a meal provider should be reopened.

The meeting was made possible on Facebook through the Letcher County Broadband Board and the on-line meeting app Zoom. These enabled the court to practice social distancing by holding its April meeting by Internet. Each court member had the Zoom app open on his or her PC or phone and Roland Brown of the Broadband Board helped Judge/Executive Terry Adams with the Facebook connection.

Slone told the court that the CANE bid had included three hot meals a day per prisoner for $1.30 per meal, but he was later told that it would not be able to meet state nutritional requirements for that amount. The only other bid at last month’s meeting had come from Kellwell, a national company that provides food services to correctional institutions throughout the eastern United States. Kellwell provides meals for several other jails in eastern Kentucky.

Slone said he was willing to cooperate with the court but emphasized that the cost to prepare inmate meals in-house was no longer feasible, and the court would need to find an outside vendor. He said the jail cannot provide meals inhouse for the amount specified in either of the bids placed last month. County Attorney Jamie Hatton said the court should redo bids to be more specific and give a complete description of the need, and start the process over.

Judge Adams agreed that the bid should be rewritten and placed again. First District Magistrate Jack Banks agreed, and added that while it is necessary to provide good food to the inmates, the cost of feeding prisoners is the jail’s single greatest expense. Adams replied that the court is “strapped,” and needs to look at every avenue to keep costs down. The judge and magistrates voted unanimously to redo the bid and place it again.

In other jail-related business, Slone reported that the jail’s commissary fund had started March with a cash balance of $104,220.23 and had finished the month with a balance of $103,809.27. Total expenditures were $25,140.62 and total receipts were $24,729.66.

In a related financial matter, Adams reported that Letcher County Court Clerk Winston Meade had presented the court with a check for $7,916 as the final settlement for 2019. Magistrate Banks told Adams he has received a number of favorable comments on the April Clean-up, particularly the free drop off at the Millstone Transfer Station. Adams said the station is open during the regular hours daily and also from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday and Letcher County Sanitation customers can drop off solid waste at no charge. He added that the Sanitation Department is making trash collections on the regular schedule now and praised the workers for their dedication to their jobs.

Adams also praised the Road Department employees for the long hours and hard work they have put in to clean up after the storm last weekend. Fourth District Magistrate William “Cheddy” Smith added that volunteer fire departments throughout the county had been very helpful in clearing roads and cleaning up fallen trees as well.

The court voted to add a number of cemetery roads to the county road plan list. These include the F.C. Lusk Cemetery Road, the Atkins Road, the Pack Cemetery Road, the Hughes Cemetery Road, the Webb & Friends Cemetery, the Blair Cemetery, the Obey Fields Cemetery, the Watson Adams Cemetery, the Vern Adams Cemetery, the Johnson Cemetery, the Jimmy Griffith Cemetery, the Dan Caudill Cemetery, the Duke, Back, and Witt Cemetery, the Kirby Whitaker Cemetery, and the Watts and Whitaker Cemetery.

Second District Magistrate Sherry Sexton asked the court to revisit the possibility of using county equipment and labor to maintain the Cull Collins Road, which runs to the Knott County line. The road leads to several cemeteries. At a recent meeting, Hatton had explained that the county can’t spend money on a road that serves no public function, but Sexton insisted that court members look into the matter further. Judge Adams asked that the committee set up to measure and examine cemetery roads take a look at the road to see if it merits inclusion.

Bank balances for county agencies as of March 3

• General Fund: $778,775.04

• Road and Bridge Fund: $741,429.02

• Jail Fund: $36,241.92

• LGEA Fund: $58,652.28

• Senior Citizens Fund: $229.23

• Forestry Fund: $18,364.20

Total of all funds : $1,633,691.69

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