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GEMS to transport bodies for county

Sheriff Kenny Harden will enter into a four-month contract with GEMS Ambulance Service to provide transportation of bodies to the state forensics laboratory in Montgomery.

GEMS will charge the county a flat rate fee of $150 per transport. The county commission approved the measure on Monday.

The contract is necessary because the Department of Forensic Sciences announced last week that it would no longer transfer the bodies of those who die under mysterious circumstances to state labs.

The law does not require forensics to transport bodies and eliminating the service could save the department approximately $400,000, according to Michael Sparks, forensic sciences director.

In November 2008 Gov. Bob Riley ordered state departments to trim budgets to prevent a deficit.

The state will no longer transport bodies for autopsies after a Jan. 19 deadline.

“We hope this is only a temporary measure and that the state decides to continue to transport bodies,” said Harden.

In other business, the commission:

– Approved a contract with Allied Waste for garbage pick-up at an increased cost of $17.66 per month for county residents.

The increased cost is $2 over last year.

“It’s mainly to cover operating expenses,” said Seren Ainsworth with Allied Waste. “Although gas has come down, diesel is remaining at high levels and we’ve seen projections into 2010 that are going to keep it up.”

– Approved a $3,000 one-time appropriation to Covenant Care Community Development to help with the purchase of computers for the students it services.

– Appointed Bill Lewis, President of BankTrust; Mike Middleton, Mayor of Georgiana; and Jennifer Machin of Alabama Power to the Industrial Development Board.

– Recognized James Jones on his retirement from the county’s road department. Jones served 20 years with the county.