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Funding for new EMS station questioned

An emergency service center is scheduled to be built on the new Harrison County Hospital grounds, but who will pay for it is questionable.
Gary Kleeman, director of Emergency Medical Services at Harrison County Hospital in Corydon, requested support Monday morning from the Harrison County Board of Commissioners to build a 7,800-square-foot facility. However, the funding for the building should have already been in place, according to Commissioner Terry Miller.
‘There was money there for this building,’ said Miller. ‘This was all supposed to be included. If it wasn’t, why wasn’t it?’
‘The only way to resolve this issue is to sit down with (HCH executive director) Steve Taylor and the hospital board,’ said Commissioner James Goldman.
The cost of the building has not yet been determined, but Kleeman said a ballpark figure is $800,000 to $990,000.
‘You really don’t know until you go out for bids,’ said Goldman.
The commissioners agreed to take the request under advisement and meet with Taylor before moving forward.
The building will enable Air Methods, which recently purchased CJ Systems Aviation Group that includes STATCARE air ambulance service, to house a medical helicopter at the site, thus providing quicker response times to scenes in Harrison County and the surrounding area. (STATCARE’s other sites, all in Kentucky, include Louisville, Glasgow and Bedford, while Air Methods has a regional site in Elizabethtown, Ky.)
‘This lets us complete the process of STATCARE moving to Harrison County Hospital,’ said Kleeman.
About 1,100 square feet of the EMS facility would be leased by STATCARE, according to Kleeman, which hopes to have construction completed by mid-summer.
The structure, which will serve as the main support center for Harrison County Hospital EMS, will house the central EMS crews, wheelchair service, special EMS response units and equipment, a training center, and support staff of four, for the 33 full-time and 30 part-time staff members. Another positive, said Kleeman, is the county will no longer have to pay rent for garage space as it does now. EMS’s main headquarters is currently located in a house that was converted to office space adjacent to the hospital, off Atwood Street.
The new building will be designed to facilitate administration, education, operations and logistic functions for the employees. Kleeman said the facility will help attract personnel and help retain current staff members.
‘Having a facility where apparatus, equipment and supplies can be kept in a climate-controlled environment will improve service and morale to even higher levels,’ said Tony Combs, public health coordinator for the county, in a letter of support for the center.
The new location, which is proposed due east of the new hospital, will enhance the safety and timeliness of an ambulance run by avoiding the congested downtown area, which is unavoidable with the current location, Kleeman said.
The center will give the EMS a larger classroom and will allow the expansion of training programs in conjunction with STATCARE. It will also better accommodate public CPR, First Aid, First Responder and EMT classes, said Kleeman.
In other county matters Monday, Ramsey Water Co. has plans to keep pace with the growing demand for water and the ever-increasing water quality regulations administered from the federal and state level. The company plans to build a $4 million water filtration plant with construction slated to start late this year and a tentative completion date set for the end of 2009.
Mike Weddle, Ramsey Water Co. manager, requested $3 million for the project.
‘We’re very excited,’ said Weddle. ‘We want to continue to supply the needs of the county well into the future.’
Ramsey Water Co. supplies about 40 percent of the drinking water in Harrison County.
John B. Weil, of GRW engineers, will oversee the project.
‘The driving force behind this plant is the resolutions that have been passed, including seven this past year,’ said Weil. ‘Ramsey Water Co. would be well-advised to address those issues.’
The plant will be designed to manage the iron and manganese, which has become a growing concern for customers, said Weddle. The plant will be constructed adjacent to the water treatment facility located near Leavenworth and the well field that supplies most of Ramsey’s customers.
‘The reason we’ve come to you, in order for us to continue to meet the needs of customers for supply, we’ve continuously had to upgrade lines,’ said Weddle. ‘We just felt it was necessary to try and come to you for help.’
‘We’d be hard-pressed to come up with $3 million at this point,’ said Commissioner J.R. Eckart. ‘It’d be hard to make a commitment with money we don’t have.’
‘It’s an extremely important project we’re committed to doing,’ said Weddle.
Weddle said the need for a filtration plant is great, as Ramsey has a robust five-year plan, including 33 distribution system projects scheduled to be completed during the next 20 years.
The commissioners took the request under advisement.
‘It’s a big request, a lot of information we need to look at,’ said Goldman.
In other matters:
‘ The commissioners discussed the county’s obligation to the Milltown bridge project. Goldman said the agreement with Crawford County was for a new bridge on the railroad right-of-way site, not for the replacement project in the works for Milltown.
‘I just want to make sure you all are on board with our participation before it moves forward,’ Goldman said.
The project, which Harrison County has already funded $154,000, could end up costing the county as much as $1.2 million.
Eckart, who has two bridge projects in his district that will need funding in 2008, said, ‘My priorities are weighted towards Harrison County.’
‘I’d like to see a bridge there,’ said Miller. ‘It’s been 19 years.’
Miller also has the Lickford Bridge project in his district, which will take about $400,000 out of the cumulative bridge fund. Miller encouraged county engineer Kevin Russel to get with Darin Duncan, of CPI engineering, and others to begin work at the Lickford Bridge site. He said a right-of-way needs to be obtained and that some trees need to be removed before bat season.
‘ The commissioners kept the same alignment as last year, with Goldman as chairman and Miller as vice chairman. They also agreed to keep John E. Colin as legal counsel.
‘I personally think John has done a very good job the past year,’ said Eckart.
‘ The commissioners discussed the possibility of re-activating the Harrison County Board of Aviation.
‘I was hoping at some point in time there would be local support on that issue,’ said Eckart. ‘If you think it’s a good endeavor, I’d take on the project. It would be a great opportunity to do something, right now.’
‘ The commissioner sent a request of $10,000 to the county council for the Rev. Richard Goodwin and the Chaplain Association, $208,000 for Harrison County Community Services and $150,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Harrison County (formerly the Gerdon Youth Center).