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County commission and Erwin board move forward with final EMS agreement and board appointments

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jan 28, 2020 at 8:46 PM

The Unicoi County Commission and Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday approved the final draft of the inter-local agreement establishing the new Unicoi County EMS.

The two unanimous votes came within minutes of each other in near-simultaneous meetings of the two governing boards.

County Attorney Doug Shults delayed the commission’s vote on the agreement to end of their meeting in order to allow consideration of the Erwin board’s vote on the agreement.

After the Erwin board’s approval of the agreement with amended language that calls for the town’s representatives on the EMS board to be removed from that board in conjunction with any future termination of town’s participation in agreement, the county approved the agreement with the same amendment language.

The commission further voted to appoint Commissioner John Mosley as its representative on the EMS board and to authorize Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely, who will also serve on the EMS board, to appoint a third, at-large, member to the board.

The Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen will appoint its EMS board representatives at their next regular meeting on Feb. 10, or in a special called meeting if needed to expedite the incorporation of the new EMS.

The Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s approval of the final agreement and EMS board appointments are expected to come up for vote at the Unicoi board’s February meeting.

Each of the three local governments will have two representatives on the nine-member EMS board, including their respective mayors and an appointed member. In addition to the at-large member appointed by Evely, the board will also include the Unicoi County EMS medical director and Unicoi County Hospital Administrator Eric Carroll.

The commission also voted to request the Unicoi County Memorial Hospital Board release two buildings occupied by the Unicoi County ambulance station from a lease to Christian Care Center and return the buildings to use by the county.

The county is currently subleasing the buildings — a three-bay garage and a residential care center suite located next to the former county hospital — from Christian Care Center.

A separate tract of property previously considered for construction of a new ambulance station near Exit 36 of Interstate 26 has also been transferred to the county. On Monday the commission voted to accept a quit claim to the property on Harris Hollow Road from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The county requested the TDOT quit claim nearly two years ago before leasing the current ambulance station. Commissioner Marie Rice said the property is now available for use for future county needs.

In other business, the commission authorized Evely to advertise a request for proposals to determine both the cost of renovating space at the county’s Jail Annex and the number of additional inmates that could be housed in the renovated space.

The RFP was recommended by the commission’s Buildings and Grounds Committee in order to increase county’s state inmate revenues. Sheriff Mike Hensley told the commission his department could house 10 to 20 additional inmates without hiring additional staff.

The commission also approved a $20,000 allocation to install a new fire sprinkler system in the county’s main jail building that Hensley said is needed for certification of the jail.

Editor’s Note: This story has been revised to omit a statement incorrectly attributed to Sheriff Mike Hensley that jail certification is needed to house state inmates.

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