Unicoi County ambulance discussion stalls; commission vice chairman resigns

Sue Guinn Legg • Jan 19, 2019 at 12:29 AM

A called meeting of the Unicoi County Commission to consider re-advertising for bids on the county’s ambulance contract went for naught Friday, leading the commission’s vice chairman to step down in frustration.

“This whole process has been flawed all the way back to the beginning. And I am not going to be any part of it,” Commissioner Todd Wilcox said, rising to his feet immediately after his motion for the commission to reconsider its Dec. 18 vote to award the contract to MedicOne failed for a lack of second.

“This is too important. It affects every one of you,” Wilcox said, addressing a crowd of about 25 county residents at the meeting. Obviously frustrated, Wilcox then handed his written letter of resignation from the vice chairmanship to the county mayor and left the courtroom where the commission was meeting.

The commission’s discussion of a growing list of concerns surrounding the county’s pending contract with MedicOne Medical Response and the process that resulted in the county receiving only one bid on the contract continued after Wilcox’s resignation, with Commissioner Glenn White saying he did not understand what had just happened.

White and Commissioner Marie Rice both said they wanted more time to research questions surrounding the contract and bid process and indicated they had misunderstood Wilcox’s motion as a motion to rescind the MedicOne contract approved by the commission on Dec. 17.

Commission Chairman Loren Thomas said the failure of Wilcox’s motion to reconsider the contract left nothing on the agenda for the commission to discuss and John Mosley, who chairs the commission’s Ambulance Committee, immediately made a motion to adjourn.

Commissioner Jaime Harris seconded the motion, which failed by a 4-3 vote, with White, Marie Rice, Matthew Rice and Jason Harris opposed and Thomas, whose wife works for MedicOne, abstaining.

Commissioner Stephen Hendrix, who seconded an earlier motion by Wilcox to table the issue until the next meeting, voted for the failed adjournment motion, but said there was nothing stopping the commission from bringing the contract back up for discussion at its next meeting. 

White then made the request for the issue to be added to the commission’s agenda for Jan. 28.

Wilcox said after the meeting he had put a great deal of work into verifying missteps in the bidding process that were recently brought to the commission’s attention by a group of concerned citizens led by former county mayoral candidate Johnny Day.

Wilcox said he drafted his letter of resignation from the vice chair position before Friday’s called meeting in the event he was unable to convince the commission that the past bidding process was flawed.

“That’s a leadership position. After all the work I put into getting information and bringing it to the commission and, apparently, I can’t get the other commissioners to see that, then I don’t need to be in that position,” he said.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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