The low bidder on a project to supply the Phelps County Jail with a generator transfer switch wanted to know why his company was not awarded the bid.

Marty Elmer, of Central Security Enterprises (CSE), the low bidder, spoke with the county commissioners Thursday morning about their decision to award the bid.

At Tuesday’s commission meeting, all three commissioners agreed to award the bid for the generator transfer switch to Live Wire Communications Inc. that submitted a bid of $45,298.75.

Live Wire was the higher of the two bids, which were opened Feb. 5. CSE submitted a bid of $39,845.

Normally, the commission awards the lowest and best bid, but Sheriff Rick Lisenbe wrote a letter, explaining his recommendation for choosing the higher bid “due to the emergency nature of the generator being down and our need to have it repaired as quickly as possible.”

Lisenbe wrote that CSE indicated it could not respond to the sheriff’s department’s needs in the timeline that the department requested.

Lt. Matt Shults, who is responsible for the operation of the jail/transport division of the county jail, said he was told that CSE could not get the job done until September, but Elmer said Thursday that is not the case.

Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp said the timeline was a crucial factor in the commission’s decision.

District Two Commissioner Gary Hicks agreed, saying, “That swung our thoughts from the lowest bid and to get it the quickest way.”

No decision to overturn the awarded bid was made. It is not clear where the miscommunication occurred and Verkamp said he would like to know what happened.

In other business

Also at the meeting, county department heads and the commission heard from Edwin Van Weelden, of Anytime Fitness, who talked about the benefits Anytime Fitness can offer to county employees.

Additionally, it was noted that the county will hold a surplus sale, which will be open to the public Wednesday, April 17, and Thursday, April 18. People will have the chance to bid on surplus items from county courthouse offices.

The commission unanimously approved a final financial statement for the years 2010-12 for the county senior companions program. According to a copy of the statement, federal funds authorized and spent totaled $1,062,027.

The local in-kind contributions and donations for the program totaled $273,278.54, which exceeded the program’s required share of $271,145. Jan Boatright, director of the Phelps County senior companion program, said her office is funded for 76 volunteers who serve about 400 people in the county.