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County taking bids for lawn contract
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Newton County is finally bidding out its lawn care contract, which became a source of controversy this year when it was discovered the current contractor had operated without an up-to-date county business license.

County Manager John Middleton told the Board of Commissioners Tuesday that the contract, which was most recently renewed in February at a cost of $98,463, is being bid out and that all bids are due by April 25.

The bid is posted on the county’s website at, and a copy of the bid packet can also be found at In order to be eligible to submit a bid, companies must attend a pre-proposal conference at 10 a.m. April 11 at the Newton County Administration Building’s second floor conference room, 1113 Usher Street.

“The mandatory pre-proposal conference is to clarify and review the scope of work at each of the locations with site visits to each if necessary,” county employee Mary Ann Patterson said in an email. “Once a proposal or bid is sent out, most bidders have questions concerning the project and this is their opportunity to bring forth any questions.”

The contract will be for one year, with an option for two additional one-year terms.

The contract includes some combination of mowing, weed eating, cleaning of trash and debris, chemical weed control, edging, shrubbery trimming and fertilization at 21 sites around the county, including several recycling centers, animal control, Mansfield Community Center, Historic Courthouse, Newton County Judicial Center, Newton County Health Department and Newton County Administration Building.

The contractor must have insurance policies for at least $1 million each for comprehensive general liability, commercial automobile liability and statutory worker’s compensation.

The lawn care contract has been held for the last several years by Durden’s Lawn Maintenance, and the Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 Feb. 5 to extend the contract for five years. However, the board backtracked after learning owner Billy Durden had regularly operated without a business license for periods of time.

Durden later said he often waited to renew his business license until the penalty date in March as opposed to the December deadline, and he also said that between 2002 and 2006, he worked out of his home and didn’t think he needed a business license. He also paid all of his late fees.