Kiowa County Memorial Hospital administrator Mary Sweet and county ambulance director Tim Smith appeared before the county commission July 23 to ask the County to go beyond subsidizing the ambulance service $100,000 a year to taking responsibility for the service altogether.


Kiowa County Memorial Hospital administrator Mary Sweet and county ambulance director Tim Smith appeared before the county commission July 23 to ask the County to go beyond subsidizing the ambulance service $100,000 a year to taking responsibility for the service altogether.
Commissioners, however, were unwilling to make such a commitment without a copy of the current contract between the County and hospital concerning the ambulance service.
Smith suggested the County might want to also consider combining the services of the volunteer fire department and EMT personnel, helping to “subsidize” the fire department.
Emergency preparedness director Ray Stegman said the County now has 10 firemen, with five on duty at any given time.
Smith said that while he and his wife are trained as paramedics, the EMT volunteers at his disposal before May 4 are now “pretty much gone.” Training firemen as EMT’s would help fill that void.
“I’d have to have six full time EMT’s without volunteers in order to provide 24-hour service,” Smith added. He later added one remaining EMT is currently in training to qualify as a paramedic.
“Do we really want the ambulance service to become part of the fire department?” commissioner Gene West asked.
“I do think it would be better if the fire and ambulance services were all in one building,” Stegman commented.
“I’m not saying yes or no to any of this right now, but we need to know what kind of contract we’re working under to know what it says,” West said.
 Having lost one of its two ambulances to the tornado, Smith said the County needs to replace the destroyed vehicle in spite of runs having fallen to around half the pre-tornado volume.
“We were averaging about a call a day before May 4,” Smith said. “It’s been about half that in May and even a little less in June.”
“This has always been a county ambulance service,” Sweet said. “I’d like to see the County take it over.
“We had an office for the ambulance service, ambulance barn, maintained the ambulances and did billing, and so forth.”
“And you want the County to take that over?” asked County Attorney Candace Lattin.
“As much as you can,” Sweet replied.
Temporary county administrator Joe Palacioz then commented, “Since the hospital board of trustees has the authority to tax, the subsidization could come under the hospital board’s mill levy. You (hospital) could draw up a management contract for the County to run the ambulance service. You should pay the County a fee for managing the ambulance service.”
After Sweet said she saw no advantage to the hospital in such an arrangement, Palacioz countered, “This decreases the work load for hospital administration to no longer have to manage the ambulance service.
Chair Don Richards brought the issue to a close by saying, “I guess we’ll put this on hold until we find the contract.”
In other matters:
The County agreed to a bid from WRAY Roofing of Wichita to complete repairs to the exterior and interior of the courthouse for a total of nearly $337,000.
Commissioners also agreed to a $25,000 contract for D J McMurry to serve as geographical information systems director for one year, retro to July 2. West, McMurry’s father-in-law, abstained from the vote.
Stegman asked if the County wanted to consider upgrading its insurance coverage to include equipment borrowed and used by the County.
Lattin suggested the County not “take over wholesale” Greensburg City ordinances. One area of concern in particular is that of animal control.
“Who picks them (dogs) up?” Lattin asked. “Where do we take them?”
After being informed by Kendal Lothman the city’s pound is not up and running, but is available if the County should staff it, Lattin asked, “But if it’s the City’s building, who’s responsible for the insurance in case someone gets bitten? We need to settle this, because while there’s not too many dogs in town right now, they’ll be starting to come back before long.”
Palacioz shared with commissioners several forms to streamline the budgeting process, including one that allows side-by-side comparison of prior budget, revised budget and proposed budget. Another was for capital outlay requests, while a third was for budget request narratives.
Road and Bridge Superintendent Doyle Conrad expressed frustration over being pulled in several directions.
“I’m supposed to work on the roads and stuff at FEMAville (reference to mobile home park in Kellers Subdivision), while they’re riding my rear over the north landfill, to clean it up,” Conrad complained. “Well, who made it a mess up there? I didn’t.”
He also lodged further complaints over the FEMA settlement, saying “There’s been some injustice here, when I lose Scott and Olive Streets to all the construction traffic and they get torn up by the FEMA work. And then after that FEMA tells me these are my streets to fix, after they’ve destroyed them. I didn’t tear them up, but now I’m supposed to fix them.”
Conrad also detailed to The Signal after the meeting the final numbers on damages and losses to County equipment via the tornado. It included the loss of nine pickups, a track hoe, two cabbed tractors used for mowing, and the replacement of 135 windows in graders, dozers, loaders, and trucks. Conrad said he didn’t plan on replacing the track hoe.