Minnesota company hired for tornado debris removal

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Despite calls from Governor Robert Bentley, Jefferson County's Commission decided to employ the services of a Minnesota based company to spearhead its cleanup effort.

According to Mark Kelly with the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, the county weighed all of its options and decided that Minnesota-based Ceres Environmental would receive its contract for "right-of-way" clearance.

He said Alabama-based companies were in the running among the five or 6 applicants but Ceres won the bid.

"Certainly there was consideration for that" Kelly said. "But once again, you want to get the best job you can get at the best price and that was the decision that was the basis for the decision the county made on it."

Governor Robert Bentley, touring Elmore and Tallapoosa County storm damage today said he received the news of the awarded contract last night.

"I spoke on the phone on with the head of their county commission and he assured me 99% they'd use Alabama subcontractors" Gov. Bentley said. "But I told him I want 100%."

Ceres Environmental has satellite offices in Louisiana, Florida, and Texas and has extensive experience with managing debris cleanup and relief effort.

Reached by phone Friday, Ceres Environmental President Troy Garrett explained the company will act in a project manager role for the county.

Garrett said the company will "absolutely consider hiring local subcontractors."

The company has previously contributed to the cleanup and recovery efforts for some of the world's most recent and widespread natural disasters.

Garrett himself recently spent 6 weeks assisting New Zealand in its earthquake recovery effort. Ceres also assisted New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as well as Haiti after its earthquake.

"We always have an army of people on the ground" Garrett said.

Despite the experience, Gov. Bentley said he is still not completely convinced and that he's just trying to look out for the state as it rebuilds.

"Well I'm impressed with what they've done. I'll be more impressed if I see the subcontractors they hired are Alabamians" Gov. Bentley said.

The cost of the clean-up is not yet determined since the amount of cubic feet of debris that needs to be removed hasn't been determined.

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