Designer selected for new EMS base, location undetermined

Stoner votes no on each step of process

OSCEOLA COUNTY – Osceola County is one step closer to the creation of new Emergency Medical Services facilities in the county after commissioners selected a designer, despite disaproval of the order in which the board completed the process from Commissioner Tammy Stoner and community members.

The commission approved Hooker and De Jong, an architect and engineering firm based in Muskegon, to complete the project by a vote of 6-1, with Stoner, R-District Two, voting against the approval of the builder.

“I’m confused as to why we can’t pick the spot and then decide who will (design) it,” Stoner said.

The proposal to add one or more additional EMS facilities was brought to the board by EMS director Ed Nettle in 2010 after a study was done determining a need for additional bases to improve EMS response time in the county.

At the time, Nettle offered three options for bases ranging from constructing two new bases centrally located in the county and no longer using the existing three in Reed City, Evart and Marion to keeping three base locations in the same cities but building one or more new facilities.

Before deciding the bases’ location, the board opted to select an architect to design the project and take more time to review locations.

At the meeting May 15, the commission directed Nettle, along with board chairman Dave Brooks and coordinator Susan Vander Pol met with two vendors, who had been selected out of 14 bidders, to decide which to contract with for the EMS facility project.

“We recommend Hooker and De Jong based on their complete proposal, they have the philosophy we were looking for and they have experience with emergency facilities,” Nettle said at the June 5 meeting.

Brooks said the track record of the company as well as quality of work was what drove him to recommend the firm, which currently is working on 12 other projects in Michigan.

“They gave a one-year warranty on construction and they do 11-month walk through,” Brooks said. “They also do 3-D model (designing) so as they submit drawings, we’ll be able to see inside the (planned) building.”

The fact that the county did not have a location set for the one or more facilities was an issue Hooker and De Jong brought up in the interview, Nettle said, but an agreement was reached with the cost being contingent on location.

“As long as we understood it wouldn’t be definite, they could do the cost analysis on these four sites,” Nettle said.

The four sites include two sites that the county already owns; a 2.1-acre piece of land on 20 Mile Rd. near 130th Avenue in Tustin located at the former site of Osceola County Road Commission building and a 1.8 acre-site in Marion industrial park off of Lowry Street in the Village of Marion. There are also two sites near the city of Evart that the county does not own; a piece of property on the corner of 5 Mile and Lawman roads east of Rails to Trails and a site known at the Stanley property west of 110th Avenue on U.S. 10.

Stoner, who wants the base to be built at the site in Tustin, has voiced her concerns about the board not selecting a location before hiring an architect at each of the three past meetings. She also was the only commissioner to vote against each step of the process, voting no on May 1 when the board approved Nettle and Vander Pol to bring back a recommendation of two architectural/engineering firms, and on May 15 when the board approved Nettle, Vander Pol and Brooks to interview the top two vendors and bring a recommendation back to council.

After Nettles explained that the architect’s plans for a building could help the board decide where the bases should be built based on cost factors as well as response-time research, Stoner said she still feels the base location should have been established before the architect was approved.

“Why are we allowing the cost to determine the location instead of the needs of the residents?” Stoner said at the meeting on June 5.

The board also heard dissent from Alan Gingrich, who believes the board should not spend money to hire the architect before the location is established.

John Iler of Sherman Township and David Eggle or Burdell Township also have addressed the board at recent meetings, stating that the northwest quadrant is without the same EMS services as the rest of the county.

In other business, the commission:

  • approved the reappointment of David Bisbee to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Board;
  • approved a bid for air conditioning unit for Osceola County Jail for $2,983;
  • approved a job description for a part-time nurse position at the Osceola Commission on Aging.