By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Commissioner Lowell Moore went on record to say when he retires on December 31 he will continue to fight for the Amusement Tax. Moore reported to say that the Senators will be placing the bill on the agenda for approval again during the upcoming work session. Moore said: “I intend to be in Charleston on my own in January and February as a lobbyist there. I stand by what I wrote in the paper (The Parsons Advocate). Our county, as the residents, as a County Commission, if they do not value our EMS, we are not going to have an EMS.”
Moore went on record to clarify a comment made about the ordinance not being legal. According to Moore it was what done accordingly with state code and 100 percent legal. Moore also clarified a remark made by a fellow Commissioner that the ordinance fee could not be collected by the Magistrate or the Sheriff’s office because it would cost $100 to file for action. Moore state this was simply not true because the Commissioners were exempt from filing fees.
Terence Silk Ambulance Authority board member gave his report, “I want to thank everyone for being here. And we now find ourselves with a serious dilemma. First of all, as many people have predicted the levy did not pass. I want to commend our two board members Chris Davis and Dennis Filler for the outstanding job they did preparing the budget and information they provided at the meetings. It was excellent work.
Almost half of our citizens voted for the levy as confusing as it was for many. That indicates to me that most people recognize the need for EMS 24/7. So, the logical action is to revert to the existing $50 ordinance fee at least for the short term to continue to provide the needed funding for operating as close to two stations 24/7 as we can.
Our finance committee has briefly discussed a Plan B two or three times in the last four meetings that we have had. Ideas to improve the administration of the ordinance fee. However, when two of our County Commissioners publicly speak and say they are going to eliminate the ordinance fee it indicates they will are not be receptive to a Plan B. So, what are we do?
Second, giving our financial situation. I am very concerned about it and employee issues that surfaced this week. I want to know why and by whom. Some of our employees are being told not to worry that their jobs are secure. I do not know where that is coming from, and it would be interesting to know that.
That indicates a serious outside inference in our operation for which we are all responsible. Our employees look to us for leadership. It is also a great way to destroy employee morale. Without a doubt that has already happened.
Third, in last week’s Advocate it was suggested to Mrs. Means that she contact Mark Joseph, CPA for any information she wished to acquire about our finances. That will not happen! It is a confidentiality issue. Our CPA is employed by this board to serve our EMS bookkeeping needs. He and his employees are not authorized in any manner or form to disseminate any information regarding Tucker County EMS. It has to come from our office.
Bottom line, in my opinion, is this, this board and our EMS employees have got to work together. That is not happening. Somehow we have got to get this corrected or we all lose especially the many people we are supposed to be serving. If we lose our medics and EMTs in this current environment we will not have anything to replace them. That would be a real crisis and we are too close to that right now than I think we should be.”
Moore suggested to the Commissioners in their meeting that the Tucker County Commission and the EMS board come together and work things out. Moore has not gotten an answer on that yet. Moore said to the EMS board members: “I’m hoping we all sit down and hash everything out.”
Director of EMS, Shelia Marsh reported that EMS had 70 calls last month and 50 of those were on the lower end of Tucker County. EMS is getting ready for a state inspection of the trucks. Board member Diane Hinkle asked Marsh if they were running one or two crews at the current time. Marsh said it depended on how many were scheduled off for a week at time.
Marsh stated that the EMS crews are down on team members and running with a three people crew. One crew member stays in a station to take calls and the other two members go on the mountain. One member also listens for calls from home on standby to take any calls that may come in. This crew member comes to the station and goes with the member stationed at the station.
Scott Kennedy has turned in his resignation and according to Marsh a couple more may not be long behind Kennedy. And with Joseph Straight going on medical leave, the EMS crew is down on personnel. The crews currently work two 24 hour shifts per week.
Hinkle made the comment: “Our legislators need to understand that Tucker County is different from the other counties in the state. It is not just the geography. It is the amount of tourist that come through. It is our lack of having a critical care facility and not having a hospital. That can not be said enough. I think we just have to pull out all the plugs and at least get on paper or in public these statements. And then, see where the cards fall, but we should not just sit by and knowing the Commission stated that (referring to voting to remove the ordinance fee) and just allow this happen.”
Going forward the EMS board members hope to have a sit-down work meeting with the Tucker County Commission. Hoping to achieve an understanding and come to a common ground that will benefit everyone especially the residents of Tucker County.
The next Ambulance Authority meeting will be announced at a later date.