2-1 vote by ambulance board is first step to oversight
In July 17-23 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
JAMESTOWN - It came to "We'd ask that you vote on this tonight as it was submitted," said Mayor Hollis DeHart, speaking for himself and Mayor Brooks Bates along with County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner.
The three of them had gotten up during the meeting, had an impromptu meeting in another room and come back with the request.
With that request, the Russell County Ambulance Board passed a resolution that would, in practical terms, put the dispatch service under the board’s supervision.
The same stumbling points came up in Tuesday night's meeting as had in the meeting last Tuesday, and with a week to consider their positions everyone in the room came to the table with the same preferences.
David Withers, the second newest member of the board, still was opposed to Ambulance Service Director Mark Coots being involved in the oversight of any of the dispatch operations, other than the financials.
Roger Roy, the newest member of the board, made it clear it was his understanding that the whole purpose of the process was to make the system more efficient and he saw nothing efficient in having two bosses in the same building.
He also indicated he couldn't understand why the police chiefs, the fire chiefs and the ambulance service director were being removed from the oversight board.
The present board includes the sheriff, two police chiefs, Coots and a fire chief. The proposed board would include only the sheriff and would assign the rest of the positions on this oversight board for the National Crime Information Center terminal to members of the judiciary and others in the criminal justice field.
That terminal is linked to the FBI's national database of criminal history information, fugitives, stolen properties, missing persons. It is available to Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies, through an operational agreement with those agencies.
Coots put forward the proposal that the present board remain as it is, and function as it does, but it would report to the ambulance board.
That proposal drew resolute opposition from Garner and Withers, though neither explained why they wanted the present board disbanded.
Beckham Wilson, the board's longest serving member, said he preferred that Coots oversee all the programs in the building.
One thing that changed from the last meeting was that Coots presented a budget outline, which he said indicated that the board could operate the dispatch center without necessarily requiring any tax increase.
In the end Withers and Roy voted to accept the proposal, "as it was presented," while Wilson voted in opposition.
The proposition would put dispatch services completely under the control and budget of the ambulance service. There would be directors of both ambulance and dispatch services.
The ambulance director would continue as under the present arrangement with the exception that he would oversee the budget and finances of the dispatch center.
The dispatch director would answer to the newly formulated Link-NCIC board, only as their operations related to the NCIC terminal, and would otherwise be only answerable to the ambulance board.
There was another provision in the document which was never discussed at this meeting. By accepting the proposal the ambulance board promised to maintain the 911 addressing system, generally known as GIS which stands for Geographical Information System.
They also agreed to pay that person from the funds paid into the dispatch center's budget from the state. Those funds are paid to dispatch centers that deal with 911 calls from cell phones. The money is generated from a tax on the service for those phones.
Before the change will be put into place the fiscal court along with both cities' must agree to the proposal.
Given that the county attorney's office already has changes to be made to the document voted on Tuesday night some at the meeting questioned if the board wouldn't have to vote on it again because of the changes.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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