Friday, September 25th, 2020
Sheriff to buy 4 SUVs with COVID funds
Grey says vehicles will help keep staff safe from virus
By William Kincaid
CELINA - Mercer County commissioners agreed to spend more than $160,000 in federal COVID-19 funds on four new cruisers and GPS/routers, which sheriff Jeff Grey said will help safeguard his deputies against coronavirus exposure.
Commissioners on Thursday morning signed off on Grey's request for two COVID-19 related purchases - four new police SUVs totaling $126,020 and 29 GPS/routers for law enforcement vehicles totaling $35,626.50.
They will tap the county's share of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money to fund the purchases.
The 2020 Ford Police Special SUVs - to be acquired through Lebanon Ford by way of the state purchasing program - are equipped with non-permeable transport area surfaces to reduce contamination and aid in quick sanitation, according to commissioners' resolution.
Additionally, the vehicles will come with heat-activating software to deeper sanitize for the coronavirus, Grey said.
"You let your car run and then the software will heat the car up to a temperature that would kill the virus inside the car," Grey said.
The SUVs will transport arrestees and prisoners who have been confirmed or are suspected of being infected with COVID-19.
"If we are responding someplace where we suspect or we know that there is COVID, then that's the car we would send," Grey said. "We've had a couple of people that we've transported that have been confirmed with (COVID)."
Commissioner Rick Muhlenkamp voiced support for the purchase before the vote.
"I see the benefit from using COVID funds to pay for this now versus having to pay direct with general funds at the beginning of the year," he said. "I don't think we purchased any cruisers last year so he's probably due for another replenishment of the cruisers."
Commissioners moved to approve Grey's request to buy 29 GPS/routers with county COVID-19 funds. They chose SHI International of New Jersey, which submitted the lowest bid of $35,626.50.
The units will be installed in law enforcement vehicles to improve teleworking during the pandemic and increase remote access capability and video meetings.
The technology, Grey explained, will allow for more social distancing among personnel. For instance, rather than having to come into the office to type up a report on a frequently used computer, deputies will be able to complete the task from within their vehicle.
All in all, Mercer County government - not accounting for other local political subdivisions - has taken in about $888,000 in COVID-19 funding, including interest, said Kim Everman, county administrator and clerk of the board of commissioners.
So far, roughly $530,000 has been allocated, she told the newspaper. Other departments' requests for COVID-19 funds not yet processed easily exceed $160,000 she said.
Over the last few weeks, 24 local entities financially harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic received a total of $142,000 in county COVID-19 funds via a new program authorized by commissioners.
The Mercer County Small Business COVID-19 Grant Relief Program provides money to businesses that had fallen through the cracks and not obtained financial aid from other sources during the pandemic, county community development director Jared Ebbing has said.