New ambulance, 911 sites sought

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

If there is a $64,000 question in Allen County today, it is two-pronged: Where will county commissioners locate the 911 dispatch center and county ambulances?
Commissioners discussed the old Heartland Rural Electric Co-op office building, 410 N. State St., as a possible dispatch center in a brief exchange with Sheriff Tom Williams Tuesday morning.
“The building has tremendous possibilities,” Williams said, including a generator and interior vault that might work as a safe room.
But, the sheriff said, it might not work well as an ambulance station. “You’d probably have to build an adjacent building.” And there are other concerns, he said, not being specific.
Commissioners then elected to adjourn to a five-minute executive session “for preliminary discussions for property acquisition.” They took no action afterward.
Humboldt City Administrator Larry Tucker then told commissioners that Humboldt would be delighted if they would consider the basement of Emprise Bank in Humboldt for the dispatch center. The bank will be converted to Humboldt’s City Hall later this year, when a new bank building opens at the corner of New York and Ninth streets.
“We’re very much interested in providing the space,” Tucker said. “I think it would be a win-win situation.”
At an earlier meeting Tucker noted the basement is storm-proof and that nearby police presence would add to security.
Another shoe dropped near the end of the meeting when commissioners said they would put off for at least another week asking companies that provided qualifications statements to prepare designs and bid on construction of an ambulance station in Gas.
Another executive session was called, this time under client-attorney privilege, to give Nathan Cunningham — former interim ambulance director — an opportunity to brief commissioners in secret about prior negotiations with the city on joint ambulance service.
Cunningham and Commissioner Rob Francis met with city officials, including Mayor Bill Maness, several times without reaching any accord. City Administrator Judy Brigham said last week, after Francis declared the next move was up to the city, that she and city commissioners thought negotiations were at an end.
Jason Nelson, new county ambulance director, told commissioners that crews would tour Monarch Cement Company’s plant at the south edge of Humboldt later this month and would provide employees with first aid training. He said first responder and emergency medical technician classes might be provided for Monarch employees. He also gave commissioners a copy of updated operating procedures.