Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jun 2003
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2003 The State


Lexington Opts For Another Service After First One Did Not Meet Staff 

Lexington County Council is turning to a new counseling service for drug 
court offenders after learning its first choice lacked state-certified staff.

Council members switched to Insights Educational and Treatment Services 
after discovering the lowest bidder didn't have trained personnel on board 
when it sought the work.

The change, approved 8-1 Tuesday, took the job away from The Alternative. 
Council chairman Smokey Davis of Lexington said that firm failed to comply 
with bid requirements.

Insights challenged the April 22 hiring of The Alternative, a Columbia firm 
that was the lowest of three bidders seeking to supply the service starting 
July 1.

Insights complained The Alternative didn't have state-approved counselors 
as required when it sought the job.

Arnold Evans, director of The Alternative, confirmed that was correct but 
said he understood the requirement was one that had to be met by July 1.

His company promised "everything would be in place" by then, he said.

County officials did not check qualifications of the three services seeking 
the work before awarding the bid but would have done so prior to letting 
them start work, county administrator Art Brooks said.

The protest from Insights brought attention sooner to the problem, he said.

Insights, with offices in Lexington and West Columbia, replaces 
Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, which has counseled 
offenders since the court opened in 1996.

County officials estimate 55 adults and 36 juveniles will receive 
counseling during the next year. The amount paid depends on the number of 
offenders assisted.

Insights will receive just over $245,000 for that level of service 
expected. The Alternative would have been paid just under $118,000. LRADAC, 
the other bidder, proposed payment of $387,000 to continue.

Meanwhile, legislative largess ended financial woes that jeopardized the 
future of a court highly-regarded by law enforcement leaders.

Higher fees and one-time state aid will keep the court open, Circuit Judge 
Marc Westbrook said.
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