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City Council: Manure contract tabled
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Despite a heap of discussion about manure removal and shavings sales services Wednesday night, Conyers city council decided to table the contract until the next meeting.

Georgia International Horse ParkDirector Jennifer Bexley said the staff recommended going with the bid of current provider and second lowest bidder Queen Wood over the bid of Forest Sales because of Queen Wood’s experience in providing cleanup service and shavings for the equestrian community.

Queen Wood’s bid was about $69,000 a year, at $2 a stall for 34,500 stalls. Forest Sales was about $30,000 a year, at 90 cents a stall for the same number of stalls.

“We look at that for reasonableness,” she said. “We want to be sure we’re not taking advantage of our customers.” She added cost savings was important to the Horse Park, but not necessarily the most important factor in this bid.

“I fear they do not realize the entire scope of what we do at the Horse Park,” she said of Forrest Sales. “The equestrian people are a unique group and are not always easily satisfied.”

She described Forest Sales seemed to primarily to be a wood products company that served a few farms and equestrian customers. Queen Wood provided shavings for GIHP and other equestrian facilities, including GIHP’s competitors, she said.

She also described the demanding nature of the services during horse show season, when the facilities stalls would need to be cleaned within one day to prepare for the next show coming in. Timeliness was also important for the non-equestrian visitors.

"We don’t want them to have to deal with pits filled with manure. It’s vitally important for us to get that manure out as quickly as possible," she said.

The shavings and stall cleanout services were linked to address the problems GIHP experienced in getting the stalls cleaned in time using unreliable contractors or prison labor, said David Spann, former GIHP director and current city chief operating officer. Often, the contractors would have other projects that became more important, or prison labor would be unable to work under certain conditions, and the manure would sit for another day.

“That was such a beast for us to get our arms around,” said Spann. At one point, the poor manure collection resulted in a four-acre manure pile that ended up combusting, he said.

A representative for Forest Sales, Don Grantham, a former Richmond County commissioner, spoke at the meeting. He said the company was Georgia based company that sold products from Georgia forests.

A representative from Queen Wood, Michael Mathis, said although his company was based in South Carolina, their employees were from Georgia, the golf carts rented out as part of the vendor contract were obtained from Covington, and that they provided shavings to huge equestrian facilities.

Councilman Marty Jones, who suggested tabling it until the next meeting, said he had come to the meeting ready with his recommendation. “But at least to be fair, I’d like to sleep on it,” he said.

The next meeting date is to be announced and might be on Dec. 21 or January 4, 2012.