Nine representatives from Hillsboro attended the May 15 meeting of the Marion County Commission to voice concerns about having no ambulance coverage on certain days in May.
Those attending were Larry Paine, Hillsboro city administrator; Clint Seibel, Lou Thurston, Darrell Driggers and Lyman Adams Jr. representing Hillsboro Development Corp.; Delores Dalke, Hillsboro mayor; Jessika Workman and Ken Johnson, Hillsboro Community Hospital; and resident Melissa Riddle.
Adams asked the commission if he could read a letter from HDC, which addressed the health and safety of various groups in Hillsboro.
Those groups, he stated, include two residential nursing homes, transportation to and from the local hospital, about 300 to 400 manufacturing-related employees, and a high traffic count on U.S. Highway 56.
In addition, Adams said, about 600 Tabor College students are engaged in athletics, students ranging from pre-school through grade 12, and 3,000 residents representing the largest concentration in the county.
“We respectfully voice our support for full-time ambulance service to be located in the city of Hillsboro,” he said. “We understand that finding qualified personnel and sufficient funding is not easy. However, with the potential of lives being in jeopardy because of long wait times for ambulances arriving on scene, we believe it’s crucial to remedy this situation as soon as possible.”
Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said volunteers used to be available, but that’s no longer the case.
“Hillsboro was the first to lose volunteers causing a shortfall there,” he said.
Dallke said he also agreed with what Adams said, and it was his opinion to pump money toward EMS.
“We don’t mind paying to get service,” he said. “But, we are going to get people to stay here without providing good buildings for a place to stay and good leadership (to keep them here).”
Ed Debesis, EMS director, said he continues to look for people to hire.
“We won’t hire anybody if they aren’t qualified,” he said.
Debesis said he has three people hired and has rejected applications after the candidates were interviewed.
“We are doing the best for you guys,” he said. “I know city workers aren’t hired after they walk through the front door. We are interviewing people, but the right people haven’t hit the door.”
During June, Debesis said a first-responder will be on duty every day except June 3. “Our third (paramedic) doesn’t start until June 5.”
The only other time Hillsboro will be without service is May 25, when the ambulance goes in for repairs.
Dallke asked Debesis to go over the hiring process for adding the three he now has.
“When we started the process, I had too many friends in Marion County, and it made a decision difficult,” Debesis said. “I asked the director and assistant director from Dickinson County to go through the applications.”
Five of the six people interviewed were hired from Marion County, and one was a paramedic.
“This time during the interview process we used full-time staff to do this and their opinion matters,” Debesis said.
As for Hillsboro EMS coverage, he said three paramedics have been hired, and all three are in Hillsboro, with one starting June 5.
Commissioner Dianne Novak asked if the EMS position is still being advertised. Debesis said yes.
Commissioner Kent Becker, who represents Hillsboro in his district, asked for a 10-minute executive session for personnel matters. After they returned to open session, a second 10-minute executive session was called. No action taken when they returned to open session.
In other business, the commissioners:
• heard from Emma Tajchman, director of Planning, Zoning and Environmental Health, to discuss a conditional-use permit at 429 W. 60th Road, Hillsboro. The couple, she said, would like to move an RV on the property while construction of a new home is underway.
According to the regulations, that type of dwelling is prohibited without a CUP. The commissioners approved the permit by a unanimous vote.
• Sheriff Robert Craft requested the commissioners consider allowing his department to acquire a van that had served the Economic Development department.
“We would be using it to transport inmates,” he said. “The number has gone from 11,000 to 18,000 inmates, and it’s about to wear out the Ford Crown Victorias.”
Dallke said the vehicle is being requested by the Department on Aging and it could also be given to the new economic development group. No decision was made.
• Tajchman also talked about the Main Street building that formerly housed economic development for the county, and her office.
“We had a lot of issues with the air conditioner (needing repair), finding out we had termites (in the basement) and the refrigerator went out, all in the same week,” she said.
Tajchman asked if all the repairs and purchases needed to come from her budget.
The structure also is sloping and settling in the middle, Tajchman said. The cost to fix the problem could run as high as $300,000.
“It is noticeable if someone looks at it upstairs,” she said.
• Bud Druse, Weed, HHW, Transfer Station and Recycling director, said the bucket on the skid steer is out of warranty.
Druse invited bids for a new 2017 skid steer bucket. The bids were $3,922 and $3,995. The commissioners voted 3-0 to replace the bucket no longer under warranty with the newer one at $3,922, and move that bucket to the older skid steer.
• County Clerk Tina Spencer will be contacting Chris Hernandez, who leads the economic development committee about appointing someone to the South Central Kansas Economic Development District. Novak agreed with a second committee member serving on SCKEDD, too.
• Becker questioned why the Logan Township Fire Protection District, located in the furthest northern part of the county is under the protection of McPherson County.
Spencer said the districts were formed in 1961, but plans were to look into revising boundaries. Robson said she would lay out the process for this revision.
• Becker also asked about cell phones and why someone calling 911 in Marion County was directed to McPherson County.
“If someone is on the outer edges (of the county), it will hit whatever tower is closest,” he was told.
Craft said the next generation of 911 will bring up a map of the exact location of where the cell phone is.
Landlines in the county would go directly to Marion County’s 911.
• Jesse Hamm, road and bridge supervisor, brought bids to the commissioners for a dump truck and bed and plow.
After some discussion, the commissioners agreed to buy two dump trucks and the bed and plows, but wanted them to be outfitted so that a pup could be added.
“We are getting a lot of criticism and drivers driving a pup are more efficient when hauling sand, rock or other materials.
For now, commissioners approved rigging one of the trucks so a pup can be added, but the other truck would also be outfitted if a second pup is added in the future.
The low bid for a dump truck went to Williams Service (International) for $95,652 and a dump bed and plow from Truck Parts and Equipment at $49,845 times two.