Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 21, 2014

County agrees to transfer ambulances

By DIANE VANCE | Nov 13, 2013

Jefferson County Board of Supervisors approved a sale/transfer agreement for county ambulance vehicles to Midwest Ambulance, the company that contracted to serve Jefferson County in October 2012.

It was a split vote, 2-1. Supervisors Dick Reed and Becky Schmitz approved transferring ownership of the three ambulance vehicles to Midwest and supervisor chairman Lee Dimmitt disagreed.

Schmitz serves on the Ambulance Service Agency Board, which came up with and recommended the sale/transfer agreement. The city of Fairfield and Jefferson County Health Center also will need to approve the agreement.

“The [Ambulance Service Agency] board has been working the entire year, requesting the ambulance service to come up with an agreement with a $25,000 contribution from each of the three local entities,” said Schmitz.

Midwest originally contracted with the local entities for a three-year contract, expiring in Sept. 2016. Now, the sale/transfer agreement includes extending the contract four more years, to Sept. 30, 2020.

“The board agreed, there was no disagreement among the board, that Midwest is making an investment to maintain and replace vehicles,” said Schmitz. “We felt we could extend the contract.”

Last week, Schmitz had reported on the maintenance needs of the three ambulance vehicles and one or two could need replacing soon.

Dimmitt asked if the ambulance service would pay off the county’s $100,000 debt it borrowed to purchase an ambulance.

“We’re still paying off the $100,000 we borrowed,” he said. “I have concerns. I understand the financial component about the ambulance service extending the contract for seven years, but it worries me.”

Reed said it makes sense to transfer ownership of the ambulance vehicles to the company providing the service.

“I think it’s time to get out of owning ambulances,” he said.

“You sit on the board along with representatives from the city and our hospital,” Reed said to Schmitz. “I respect people who serve on boards and take the time to research and know the issues.”

Owners of the Urbandale-based Midwest Ambulance Service will attend a Jefferson County Board of Supervisors meeting at 10 a.m. Nov. 25, in the courthouse.

Schmitz said she’d like to clarify misinformation in the community.

“The actual majority of employees working on the ambulances are local people,” she said. “The company has been very professional in working with the board.”

During public comments, audience member Jack Ritz said the ambulance service ought to be a part of the hospital.

“We can’t force the hospital to take it,” said Dimmitt.

Ritz said pressure should be put on the hospital to be responsible for the ambulance service.

“It’s something I always bring up to the hospital administrators,” said Reed.

Tuesday was the first day of snowfall in the area this season and county engineer Scott Cline said Secondary Road Department crews had been out checking road conditions and ice on bridges.

Reed asked Cline to put the east intersection of 227th Street with Highway 1 on the list for paving.

“We looked at doing that when we did 227th across the highway [by AmericInn],” said Dimmitt. “The [financial] assessment for the residents would have been too excessive.”

About 3/8 of a mile of 227th Street where it meets Highway 1, near the Iowa Department of Transportation shed, is rutted.

Cline also brought a schedule of six county bridges that need weight and load limits signs posted.

“The lowest limits we can post are 3 tons,” said Cline. “We have bridge funds available for design work to replace a few of the bridges.

“We need to spend $26,000 of our funds between now and July 1.”

He said his budget will cover most of that amount.

Dimmitt asked if box culverts would replace any of the six bridges on the schedule.

“One, for sure, and others could be scheduled,” said Cline. “I think box culverts are better than bridges, they last longer and require less maintenance.”

He said Jefferson County has 145 bridges on the national bridge inventory. Some are railroad bridges and some counted as bridges have been replaced with box culverts already.

In other business:

• Supervisors approved a wage step increase for Secondary Roads employee Chad Lamansky.

Cline said it would be Lamansky’s final step increase because he would be at the top of the pay scale.

“Chad is a mechanic,” said Reed. “He’s a tremendous mechanic and does a great job of having parts on hand without being overstocked in inventory. There’s nothing he can’t work on. He’s a good employee.”

• Schmitz volunteered to be the supervisor’s representative on the county’s Safety Committee.

• Schmitz said Lutheran Services had found space at First Lutheran Church in Fairfield for storing materials that are currently at the county attorney’s office.

• Schmitz reported on a presentation she attended about family court services in Washington and Keokuk counties regarding substance abuse.

“The program has intensive contact every day with offenders,” she said. “We heard very moving testimony from one graduate of the program.

“I was asking about Jefferson County’s involvement in this type of service and learned some of our cases handled by Wapello County receive family court services. It’s impressive.”

• Reed said the law enforcement center phoned him at 3:30 a.m. Sunday because the courthouse clock tower bell would not stop.

“I came up here and turned it off,” he said.

Reed said there should be a better way to handle such instances. Ray Chambers suggested a remote, computerized switch that could be handled by someone at the law enforcement center would be valuable. Reed will look into it.

• Dimmitt said the 24/7 program he outlined last meeting for substance abuse offenders received a positive response at a substance abuse meeting, and the idea will move forward.

• Chambers, director of Jefferson County Veterans Affairs Commission, said Pekin Community School District honored about 40 veterans attending a program Thursday and Fairfield High School had about 50 veterans attend its Monday program.

“Thursday, I’ll meet with a [Sen. Tom] Harkin aide about setting up a local round-table discussion,” he said.

• Ritz said he’d heard a rumor about another vote for a new gym and pool.

“It was defeated,” he said. “I voted yes the first time, but I won’t the second time. The people have spoken.”

He asked how much the early August election cost. Auditor Scott Reneker said $10,000. Ritz suggested the people wanting another election should have to pay the cost of the election, but was reminded that would be illegal.

“We’ll be looking for public input,” said Reed.

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