Lubbock Awards Jail Food Provider Contract - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

12/11/08

Lubbock Awards Jail Food Provider Contract

A new company takes over food service for the Lubbock County Jail in less than a month, but the provider may surprise you.  This story comes on the heels of former Potter County Sheriff, Mike Shumate's release from jail.

The FBI opened an investigation into Shumate's activities in January of 2006. In October of 2007, a Potter County grand jury indicted Shumate on corruption charges. This past June, he was convicted of accepting bribes from Mid-America Services. The company provided food for the Potter County Jail.  On Wednesday, Shumate finished his 180-day jail sentence, and began eight years of supervised release.

Mid-America and its president, Robert Austin, pleaded guilty in September. The company was fined and Austin is currently serving probation. Now, NewsChannel 11 has discovered a connection between that company and Lubbock County's new food provider.

Since the investigation, Mid-America changed its name to Five-Star. Lubbock County Jail's new food service provider is Five-Star. Lubbock County contracted with Mid-America before the investigation, and stayed with them during the process. County leaders say they had no complaints, or any suspicion of wrong doing during that time.  Still, they did an internal investigation, and say they found nothing, but, in September commissioners voted to cancel the contract.

They sent out proposals for a new provider, and received three bids back. Commissioner Bill McCay tells NewsChannel 11 that Five-Star had the best quality and was the least expensive. On November 24th, commissioners awarded the new contract.

McCay says despite the company's past it has new leadership, and the county is confident they will provide quality service.  "The leadership has changed; Bob Austin is no longer involved in the company.  Most importantly for the tax payers is that is a great price. Anytime we can save money on a contract of this size is fantastic," McCay said. 

He says the contract is for the current jail, and the new jail. It begins on January 1, 2009.

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