Conroe, October 14 – Two members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court complained to Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Darren Hess during the Court’s October 10, 2017, meeting, that Crowder Gulf, the company to which the County government awarded a $2 million contract for disaster relief services.
Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack said to Hess, “I’d like to ask a question about the debris management sites…It had been managed by Crowder Gulf and Tetra Technologies. In their contract, is there a group that’s supposed to maintain these facilities? Keep them clean? Keep them neat? Keep them orderly? And that’s part of their contract fee?”
Hess replied, “That’s correct. That would be under the contract with Crowder for the site management fees.”
Noack noted, “The DMS site in Precinct 3 has never one time been cleaned by Crowder Gulf. Every day our crews have to go out there, pick up trash, keep the sites clean, sweep the parking lots, get all of the debris out of the baseball field, and softball fields, so whatever fee we’re supposed to pay them at least in Precinct 3, I want you to line item and remove it, because they don’t deserve it.”
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley added, “Precinct 2 is the same way. They haven’t done anything in Precinct 2. We’ve had to do it all.”
Four weeks earlier, Crowder Gulf Vice President Lyman Ramsay told the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on September 10, 2017, “I’ve never seen the level of greed, deceit, and lies told than what I’ve seen in this state,” regarding the failure of the $2 million plus contractor to provide debris removal services necessary as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey.
The Commissioners Court awarded the $2 million contract – without any competitive bidding or review of other potential vendors – during a hastily called meeting on Friday, September 1, during which the Court also awarded all salaried and exempt employees of the County government overtime pay for their work arising from the storm. (Of course, volunteers who are private citizens working long hours to help others will receive no such compensation nor should they.)
Crowder Gulf, based in Theodore, Alabama, with satellite offices in Texas, assures potential customers, “The full-time CrowderGulf disaster support team is dedicated to provide rapid, coordinated and efficient response to any disaster situation that requires outside support – and we have the personnel, equipment resources, strong financial backing and experience necessary to do just that.” So far, CrowderGulf has failed to live up to its commitment to Montgomery County.
Ramsay admitted, “I’m very disappointed with the progress…Things have moved a little slow in getting some debris removal trucks in place…I cannot apologize enough. It [the company] has my family’s name on it. We want to be very effective with removal.”
It’s very apparent there are many companies in the Greater Houston area that provide the same type of disaster support services that Crowder Gulf was to provide under its $2 million contract.
The blame falls squarely on the Commissioners Court for hastily entering into a contract without appropriate bids or even consideration of other vendors which could easily have occurred if the County Judge and the Court fulfilled their job duties.