Union County Commissioners opened bids to provide the county residents with ambulance service for 2021 at their Aug. 21 meeting and after an initial review, tabled the matter for a more in-depth review and a vote on Sept. 4.

At the Sept. 4 meeting, commissioners offered the two bidders an opportunity to speak. Brian Hathaway of Spirit Medical Transport asked commissioners to consider a one-year contract for $391,000 with the county providing a building. Spirit worked with the owner of the building it is currently using in Union County to offer a $1 lease to the county.

Misti Foust-Cofield of Reid Health noted that as a Union County resident, she hoped to offer the best service to the county. Commissioner Paul Wiwi inquired if Reid would transport UC patients to McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford, or only to Reid facilities. A Reid representative replied that government mandates require ambulances to transport patients to the facility of their choosing.

Commissioner Howard Curry noted that the only reason the discussion was tabled at the Aug. 21 meeting was to allow them to compare products to ensure both options offered the same level of service. With that, Curry made a motion to accept the low bid, Reid Health's $390,000 per year for three years, and Wiwi seconded the motion. Both voted in the affirmative; commissioner Tim Williams was absent and had stated at the Aug. 21 meeting he would abstain due to his employment with Reid.

Jenny Kress, account executive with RMD Patti, presented a final bid for the county's health insurance for 2021. When Kress presented the firm's bid on Aug. 7, she noted the bid was based on outdated information for county employees and warned it could go up as much as 15 or 20 percent with updated information. Williams added 20 percent to the quote and after significant discussion, commissioners awarded RMD Patti the policy with the caveat the final cost does not exceed 20 percent over the initial bid. Kress' final bid came in at 19.97 percent higher than the initial bid, at $357,995. Curry made a motion to accept the final numbers presented by RMD Patti and Wiwi agreed.

Also discussed:

West College Corner resident Marilyn Revalee pleaded with commissioners to open WCC's polling location for the November election, concerned the closure would negatively impact voter turnout. Union County clerk Loree Persinger told Revalee WCC voters, like all UC voters, will be presented with three options to vote in November: mail-in voting, early voting or precinct voting.

Revalee noted the county's voter rolls are outdated and show many individuals who have passed away or moved out of the county. While the clerk's office does have updated voter rolls, Persinger noted it can take years to purge ineligible voters from the list. Election board member Jeff Mathews added that Indiana law requires all mail-in ballots to pass multiple levels of scrutiny and some mail-in ballots are rejected in every election due to verification problems.