Osceola County seeks USDA grant funding for new EMS facility in Evart

Facility will service northern part of county

Osceola County is looking to expand its services in the northern part of the county with a new EMS facility to be located in the Evart area.

Osceola County is looking to expand its services in the northern part of the county with a new EMS facility to be located in the Evart area.

Pioneer file photo

OSCEOLA COUNTY — The Osceola County Board of Commissioners approved a grant application for a U.S. Department of Agriculture Track One Recovery grant for a proposed new EMS base in Evart during its meeting last week.

According to usda.gov, Track One Recovery funds must be used in correlation with the COVID-19 pandemic to support immediate health care needs, to prepare for a future pandemic event, to increase access to quality health care services, or to support food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities.

Grants range from $25,000 to $1 million and are limited to an applicable percentage of eligible project costs — up to 75% — based on population and median household income of the population served.

Osceola County EMS education coordinator Jenney Edstrom told the board she had been working with the Kati Mora, Middle Michigan Development Corporation representative for Osceola County, to secure potential grant funding for the project and found the USDA grant.

“The USDA Track One Recovery grant has some funding available, and they do have funding that is available for construction,” Edstrom said. “It is still tied to COVID, so there are a lot of requirements. There would need to be some changes made to the building plans to fall under the grant qualifications — for example, a drive through bay to provide for a vaccine site — so it would increase the cost of the building, but it could bring in a significant amount of money that would not come out of our budget.”

To apply for the grant, there will need to be a preliminary design and budget estimate, she added.

“I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to get the funding,” she said. “It is a huge amount of money, and it is not easy to get, but it is possible. At this point, I am asking for permission to try for that funding for the EMS base in Evart.”

County coordinator Tim Ladd added that the grant application and the building design go hand-in-hand because to be eligible for the grant, the building has to be designed in a specific way.

“We will need to work on the design of the building based on the grant specifications,” he said.

Board chairperson Mark Gregory said it makes sense to have EMS pursue the grant, but felt it should be referred to the Health, Safety and Grounds committee to work in conjunction with the grant coordinator.

“There are a lot of components to the grant that need to be incorporated into the design of the building, so we can’t really design the building until we know what falls under the grant,” Gregory said. “You (and Mora) can start working on the grant and make a list of things that need to be in the design and we (Health, Safety and Ground) can start working on that.”

Edstrom said she would work with Mora to create a checklist of things that are required for the grant application, including a working budget for construction of the facility.

Ladd told the Herald Review that the discussions about an EMS base in the Evart area had been ongoing for the past several years.

“EMS has always been housed in the Evart Fire Department building,” Ladd said. “EMS is to the point where they need their own building, and the call volume in that area of the county supports the need to have an ambulance base in the Evart area.”

The county recently purchased two aces from the Osceola County Road Commission on River Road in Osceola Township, Ladd said.

“This location, we feel, will allow us to access several main roads quickly to service not only the Evart area, but to provide a quicker response to the northern part of the county, as well,” he said.

The new station will be the fourth station for the Osceola County EMS. The plan over the past several years has been to increase the number of EMS stations to four, Ladd said, with all four stations staffed 24/7 to facilitate the quickest response times for all the residents and visitors to the county. 

“Our Health, Safety and Grounds committee is working with our EMS director, Steve Young, to develop a building that not only will meet the needs today but will allow for future growth of our EMS department, as well,” Ladd said. “Recently the committee and Young toured several EMS stations around the state to gather ideas on a building. Kati Mora with Middle Development Corporation is also working with our EMS department on obtaining grant funding to help cover some costs of the building project.”

They anticipate breaking ground on the new facility in the spring, he said.