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John Thompson

Elizabethton Bureau Chief
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Still no agreement between Carter County, rescue squad

May 21st, 2013 12:18 pm by John Thompson

Still no agreement between Carter County, rescue squad

ELIZABETHTON — There is still no agreement between the Carter County Commission and the Carter County Emergency Rescue Squad that would designate the squad as the exclusive provider of emergency medical service in the county after June 30.

The county commission met Monday, but there was nothing on the agenda about the Rescue Squad. The matter was brought up when Budget Committee Chairman Harry Sisk reported on his committee’s May 13 meeting. He said the committee voted to allow two weeks of negotiations with the squad to see if an agreement could be worked out.

The squad had previously made an offer with two options. The squad’s attorney, Richard Norris, said the squad’s board of directors were agreeable to a one-year franchise. The options were based on how to pay for rescue services. The first option was to provide rescue services throughout the county, hazardous material response, transport services for the jail and methamphetamine decontaminations for a total cost of $225,000. The second option was to bill these services on a case-by-case basis.

Mayor Leon Humphrey said only a week of that time was left and asked about the negotiations’ status. Commission Chairman Thomas “Yogi” Bowers said negotiations are continuing. Bowers said he and County Attorney Keith Bowers have been negotiating with Norris and a member of the squad’s board of directors.

“Time is of the essence,” Humphrey said. Chairman Bowers assured him and others “the figures are getting closer. ... I feel we are making real progress.”

On three occasions, members of the audience began to speak about the Rescue Squad controversy. Each time, Bowers said there would be no discussions by the public on items that are not on the agenda. Commissioner John Lewis said that was not fair because the public did not have access to the agenda. Bowers said agendas are available as members of the public enter the courtroom for commission meetings and online. Bowers had one man who insisted on speaking escorted from the room.

In other matters, the commission adopted an updated revision of the county’s Occupational Safety and Health Program Plan. The commission also appointed Carter County Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Worley as safety director for the plan.

Progress was made on the delayed project to install a new roof on the Justice Center. The delay came after the discovery that leaks had saturated the roof insulation, requiring its removal and replacement. The commissioners approved the expenditure of not more than $30,000 to the previous commitment. Humphrey said the additional money may not be needed, depending on how much litigation tax is collected.

Humphrey said several other projects are coming up. One is to pave the parking lot north of the courthouse. Road Superintendent Jack Perkins will do the work June 11-13 if weather permits. The cost is estimated at $16,000. There is also a plan to paint the exterior of the courthouse using prisoners from Northeast Correctional Complex. The work would be performed after schools are back in session in August. Humphrey said there are plans to repave 1.3 miles of Stateline Road and 1.7 miles of Cedar Grove Road in 2014.

The work on flood-damaged Coney Island is not going as well. Perkins said he is waiting on final approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. “As quick as we hear something we are ready to go,” Perkins said. Humphrey said Johnson County received authorization from the Corps two weeks ago.

The commissioners also approved a resolution allowing the county to once again apply for the annual litter grant program in 2013-14. The program is funded through the Tennessee Department of Transportation and provides funding for the sheriff’s department’s roadside cleanup operations.

The county also approved a proposal from Humphrey to begin the sale of 35 unneeded county properties and get the acreage back on the tax roll. Most are small parcels and some are so restricted as to be of value only to adjoining property owners. At the mayor’s suggestion, the efforts to sell the property will be made in increments of five parcels at a time.

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