Commission holds off on EMS decision

Voting expected to take place July 2

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Members of the Osceola County Commission chose to wait before voting on a decision to allow the design and future construction of a new Osceola County EMS building to continue in Marion. The issue caused tension between commissioners and county residents in the northwest quadrant who are in support of building the station at another property in Sherman Township near a road commission building. Supporters of this township location believe there is not adequate emergency support and having the base would fill that need. Residents of Burdell, Rose Lake, Sherman and LeRoy townships believe having the base in Sherman Township will increase response time to the northeast quadrant and to the nearest hospital. Also, it would alleviate a rental fee currently paid for housing an EMS employee two minutes from the station. First responders are currently available in Tustin, Reed City, Rose Lake, LeRoy, Evart and Hersey, but advanced life support is not available in Tustin and LeRoy, said Osceola County EMS Director Jeremy Beebe. However, Beebe noted there is a fourth ambulance in Tustin available during peak hours of peak days. “Our goal is to improve services all around,” said Osceola County Commission Chair Larry Emig. “We try to make the best decision with the information that we have.” The Marion property was selected by the architect because it was a the most economical and best on which to build. In addition, Beebe said the location in Marion would be efficient because of call volume, distance to the nearest hospital, travel time and availability of first responders. He said the commissioners have been looking into other ways to extend EMS coverage, including the possible addition of another ambulance in the northwest. Beebe said there is about $1.2 million currently in  budget reserves. The total cost for the project with less expensive options is about $437,000. Currently, 80 percent of the architect cost has been paid, but it is up to the board to approve the continuation of the service or to begin again. Commissioners decided to hold off on voting until the July 2 meeting, when they will have more information regarding the sustainability of the base, call volume per township and daily ambulance use data. In other business, the commissioners approved the purchase of 12 trauma bags for the Osceola County EMS for the bid of $3,500 from Boundtree, the lowest bid. Commission members also approved a motion to list a 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 for a minimum price of $500. Osceola County Undersheriff Justin Halladay said they had one bid of $2,100 for the vehicle, but the bidder is no longer interested. The truck has driven 69,000 miles, it has four-wheel drive and is in “impeccable” shape, Halladay said. The commission also listened to a report from Shari Spoelman of the MSU Extension office. She said highlights of the year include adding new members in the 4-H program, a study which revealed children who participated in 4-H are more likely to attend and complete college and more than 1,300 volunteers are involved in the youth program. Also, $161,000 has been given in financial aid and more than $300,000 has been spent with local businesses. Jerry Lindquist of MSU Extension said farmland is in demand in Osceola County, and farms from other counties as far as Bay County are renting land because of the high prices of hay, soybeans and corn. The next meeting of the Osceola County Board of Commissioners will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday in the Osceola County building, located at 301 W. Upton Ave. in Reed City.