CADIZ - Doug Crabtree, president of Harrison County's EMS Association, told county commissioners Wednesday that the county firefighters association will meet with Smith Ambulance and the Harrison Community Hospital to discuss details of an agreement to provide coverage for the county.
"Mr. Bob Smith and Smith Ambulance are not new to the game, they have been assisting Harrison County volunteer services for as long as, if not longer than the hospital has," Crabtree stated. "They have been our backup in the western part of the county, after purchasing United, which we had used since I have been involved in the EMS service."
When the hospital came on board it centrally located its services here in Cadiz, because Smith did not come this far," Crabtree explained. "So as we researched our resources. The two services are located as such that they can cover the two areas we need help in efficiently from their home base."
Smith has a satellite office in Uhrichsville making it easier to get resources out to Bowerston, Tippecanoe or Freeport," Crabtree added. "Using their resources close to their base, in the best fit area allows the best coverage for our citizens."
"We don't have the resources to cover the entire county without the help of volunteers, so we thought it was best to partner with Smith to provide quality coverage for all citizens," said Kevin Milligan, assistant CEO at Harrison Community Hospital. "It was a joint proposal to the scenario submitted by the association. We worked with Smith Ambulance to put those numbers together as a partnership.
"We are very supportive of Smith Ambulance and they are very supportive of Harrison County," Milligan said.
"There have been no staffing models put in place. We have three organizations combining together to better serve the community," Milligan responded, addressing concerns that some hospital employees could lose their jobs as a result of the collaboration.
The county firefighters association will meet with the two parties to go over the proposal and expect to have a contract to present to the board and a deal in place before the first of the year.
In other matters, commissioners heard from Andy Atkins and Dean White of the county health board and Charles Fisher, health department administrator, concerning budget shortfalls for fiscal year 2013.
Fisher stated state officials have recommended the addition of a second full-time sanitarian to bring the county to a 2.1 sanitarian level.
The state has threatened to take over the department if there is not compliance.
"Without some help we will have to cut services after the first of the year," said Atkins.
Fisher stated that because of the extensive education and certification needed, there have been no applicants interested in taking a position as a part-time sanitarian.
"I think if we get together with the board that a resolution to the problem could be found and we can address that at the next meeting," said commission Chair Don Bethel. "We are hoping that this is an abnormal year and moving forward we can get our feet back underneath of us and get our funding straightened out again."
Commissioner Dale Norris stated the county will continue to work with the health board toward a resolution and will not let the state shut down the health department.
Harrison County Sheriff Ronald J. Myers asked the board to approve an archeological study for the location for a new communications tower.
Myers stated that the current tower is 29 years old and is "rotten" and could collapse in high winds or an ice storm.
In other business, the board:
Approved a resolution allowing Sidwell Industries to use brine water for dust control at the Harrison County aggregate facilities.
Commissioner Bethel stated that there had been numerous concerns by Cadiz residents about the dust from the facility on U.S. Route 250 and agreed that in the colder weather dust control measures need to be maintained.
Approved allowing Hess Corp. to extend a contract that covers access and egress routes for a well on county Road 36 to cover an additional well within the covered route.
Tabled a second road-use management agreement with Gulfport due to redaction of clauses on prevailing wage and road crossing constraints in the contract.
Heard from Auditor Patrick Moore who said the health insurance rate increase for county employees in 2104 will be 7.123 percent, which is below anticipated increases of up to 13 percent.