ARC owners file suit against commission
Two Marlinton business owners have filed suit against the Pocahontas County Commission, alleging the governing body did not follow its own rules, and accepted the low bid at the expense of the animals when it awarded the animal shelter contract last July.
Allegheny Recreational Center owners John Fitzgerald and J. P. Duncan declare that Sandy Mallow, who was awarded the bid, did not have adequate facilities for the animals, and that she was awarded more than $5,000 to upgrade her existing facility to the county commission's published standard.
The county commission must, by code, provide a suitable place for impounding dogs, and may contract that job with a "private incorporated society or association."
Fitzgerald and Duncan were awarded the previous year's bid; however, disagreements cropped up between them and the Pocahontas County Humane Society and, in turn, the newly-formed Pocahontas County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
ARC's bid of $74,400 was summarily turned down by the commission and Mallow's bid of $45,5000 for Last Chance Animal Shelter was accepted, along with her request for more money.
In her bid, Mallow stated that she did not have adequate kennels. The county commission purchased kennels that were used at ARC, and, after the bid award were moved to Mallow's shelter.
The suit says that all commissioners did not conduct a site survey prior to accepting Mallow's bid.
Before the animals were moved on June 30, 2011, Fitzgerald and Duncan requested that the commission reconsider the bid award, but that request was denied.
In September, Fitzgerald and Duncan's suit says the pair, along with county commissioner Jamie Walker, toured Last Chance Animal Shelter, which "had yet to produce an adequate facility or comply with all the bid specifications."
According to the petition, Mallow did not have adequate insurance, "many" dog kennels were covered only by tarps, while others were covered "by an incomplete wooden roof." The petition further states that Last Chance had no bathing facility with hot and cold water, and "many dogs were kept in kennels that had not been adequately sanitized."
Cats were "housed in crowded conditions in cages stacked on top of one another," according to the suit.
ARC's owners have filed a writ of mandamus petition, which would compel the county commission to act in accordance with the law. In this case, Fitzgerald and Duncan are demanding that the commission be directed to award the contract to ARC and that they be awarded damages because of the "improper awarding of the bid," the suit says.
County commissioner Martin Saffer said Tuesday that the commission had rightly accepted the low bid.
"The commission believes it followed bidding procedures properly and we don't believe the claim has merit," Saffer said.
No hearing date has been set, according to the Pocahontas County Circuit Clerk's office.