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Local vendor chosen for grader
County votes to accept bid from John Deere dealer for heavy machinery
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    Bulloch County Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to save tax payers more than $46,000 by selecting the less expensive of two motor graders they considered for purchase.
    Last week commissioners discussed the merits of a Caterpillar 140M all-wheel drive motor grader versus a John Deere 672G motor grader.
    John Deere representative Mark Flanders, with International Tractor  Company, said the machine he submitted for bid is equal to the Caterpillar, claiming that a three to 13 horsepower difference (depending on which gear the machines were in) made little difference especially when the cost difference was $46,233.
    The John Deere has a steering wheel, while the Caterpillar has a joystick - another difference that concerned some commissioners.
    But Bulloch County Transportation Director Eddie Smith recommended commissioners purchase the Caterpillar, telling them the motor grader is more suitable for the county's needs, and the John Deere 672G grader submitted for bid did not meet county specifications.
    Smith was concerned the John Deere would not be strong enough for the road work the county needed, he said.
    Following on the heels of the discussion held last week at a Bulloch County Commission meeting, Commissioner Roy Thompson shared research he's done and talked about a suggestion Commissioner Robert Rushing made to abandon the purchase of a new machine and keep one the county had decided to sell.
    However, County Manager Tom Couch explained that paying the $112,000 balloon payment on the used motor grader, plus the fact that there would be no warranty, would not be cost-effective in the long run.
    Thompson then told the commission he has been in the bidding business for years with his flooring company and he has seen situations where bids varied by tens of thousands of dollars for the same type product. "Just because the (Caterpillar) is $46,233 more doesn't mean the other motor grader doesn't meet specs," he said. :"I just don't see enough difference in these two machines (to warrant choosing the more expensive one). I'm just looking at $46,233."
    During the June 2 meeting, Thompson shared information he learned about the two motor grader models; the John Deere 672G has a 9 liter engine, while the Caterpillar 140M has a 7.2 liter engine, he said.
    He compared torque rise (72 percent for the John Deere 672G and 39 percent for the Caterpillar 140M), and explained torque rise has to do with "how well an engine transfers available horsepower."
    The John Deere 672G outweighs the Caterpillar 140M, by 4,652 pounds, he said.
    Thompson said he could not find a difference between the two that was worth spending the extra cash for the Caterpillar.
    "I look at all  that... can we afford $46,233 for  that extra three  horsepower?" he said. "I don't care whether it's a Caterpillar or John Deere, it's the economy of Bulloch County that concerns me."
    At Tuesday's meeting, Thompson moved to purchase a front-end loader from Caterpillar, but buy the motor grader from John Deere.
    Rushing seconded the motion. " If it was me and my money, what would I do?" he said.
     The motion passed 3-2, with Commissioner George Jackson siding with the decision. Commissioners Jan Tankersley and Anthony Simmons voted against the motion. Commissioner Walter Gibson did not attend the meeting.
     the vote, Commission Chairman Garrett Nevil asked Smith to keep close records on the new purchase, such as keeping track of  the fuel efficiency. "Those are dollars, too," he said. "Those things over a period of five years matter as well."
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