Design firm to have site research prepared Oct. 2

OSCEOLA COUNTY — After authorizing architectural firm Hooker and De Jong to research locations and design for one or more Emergency Medical Services bases in June, the Osceola County Board of Commissioners has heard many complaints from residents. Some have claimed the board is “putting the cart before the horse” by approving the firm to design the base(s) and authorizing $47,500 before knowing the locations the bases will be built. Others want an EMS base to remain in Marion while still others want one closer to Tustin. After hearing from three Marion citizens advocating for no change to Marion EMS services, and John Iler, of Sherman Township, who encouraged the board to consider the Northwest quadrant for a base location, the board heard from Frank Bednarek, representative from Hooker and De Jong at the Aug. 23 meeting. Hooker and De Jong currently is analyzing 23 aspects of four possible base sites, Bednarek said. The firm will present their completed research to the board at its Oct. 2 meeting. “We’re looking at aquisition costs. We’re looking at proximity to natural gas. We’re looking at water services such as septic or well. We’re looking at ease of site access... Of course this is all (overshadowed) by proximity to the population and increasing response time,” Bednarek 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. The topic had been discussed for many years prior. At the time, Nettle offered three options, ranging from constructing two new bases centrally located in the county, 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. Since the contract was signed, Hooker and De Jong has been researching four alternate site locations for EMS bases in Osceola County. The firm also is working on designing an EMS base, which could be placed on any of the locations. Currently, the sites most suited as base locations seem to be a site in the Marion industrial park, which is owned by the county and a site in Evart on the corner of Lauman and 5 Mile Road which is owned by the City of Evart. The firm also is looking at a site on Dighton Road which is owned by the county and a site on Dighton Road which was given to the county by the Road Commission on the terms that it would be used for an EMS base. After being asked by Commissioner Larry Emig whether the board’s decision track was similar to what other clients in similar situations have done, Bednarek said the board’s decisions were made in the right order. “I would say that the decision track would be that once we make our report, you could (move forward),” Bednarek said. “It’s not going to be black and white...There is going to be a matrix of decision making that’s going to have to come out of this as we go along.” In other business, the board approved new language for the Road Commission millage proposal to be on the November General Election ballot. The next meeting of the Osceola County Board of Commissioners will be Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 9:30 a.m. in the Board of Commissioners room.