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Towns, county agree on new Unicoi County EMS

By Richard Rourk

Unicoi County EMS will move forward with all three local municipalities on board.

The Town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to move forward with a plan that would allow the Town of Unicoi to join Unicoi County EMS with an interlocal agreement that could be adjusted after two years and will include a cap of $28,340 annually.

The motion to approve was made by Alderwoman Kathy Bullen and seconded by Alderman Jeff Linville during a meeting held on Jan. 21.

“This will be a two-year set up,” Bullen said. “Once everything comes back up we can all go back to the negotiating table in two years if we need to. …” Bullen said. “They (Washington County/Johnson City EMS) are currently operating in the black.”

According to Unicoi County Ambulance Committee Chairman John Mosley, who was in attendance at the Town of Unicoi BMA meeting, the proposed budget of $218,000 would be budgeted as follows: Unicoi County would be responsible for 65.7 percent or roughly $141,046; Erwin would be responsible for 21.3 percent or roughly $48,614; and the Town of Unicoi would be responsible for 13 percent or roughly $28,340.

Mosley acknowledged that the move to have all three municipalities on board for Unicoi County EMS will allow for each municipality to have two representatives on the nine-member board of directors.

“We are very happy with the Town of Unicoi coming on board,” Mosley said.

Following the meeting, Town of Unicoi Attorney Lois Davis-Shults confirmed that she will send any corrections needed to the drafts laid out by the Town of Erwin and Unicoi County’s attorneys.

“We already have been given the draft. We just have to add the revisions so I don’t think this part will take long,” Davis-Shults said.

Washington County/Johnson City EMS Unicoi County Executive Director Lt. Adam Copas confirmed with The Erwin Record that movement will be quick going forward in creating a Board of Directors.

“The next move will be for the county and Erwin to adopt the second resolution, then the articles of incorporation will go out to the state,” Copas said. “Once that is approved, once we get all the feedback from the state back, all of the municipalities can give us their designees and we can have our first board meeting.”

The Unicoi County Commission and the Town of Erwin BMA both voted on measures to get the ball rolling on establishing the Unicoi County EMS on Monday, Jan. 27.

The Town of Erwin voted unanimously to agree to an interlocal agreement with a clause that the Town of Erwin can terminate after two years with a six-month notice. According to Town of Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley, the clause gives all parties a chance to revisit the ambulance service after two years.

Hensley said she is ready to move on to the next phase.

“We are so excited to get this nailed down. We are ready to get this rolling,” Hensley said.

The motion to approve the interlocal agreement came from Town of Erwin Alderman Michael Baker and was seconded by Town of Erwin Alderman Gary Chandler.

Hensley acknowledged that she will join the Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors.

“I will be one of the representatives for Erwin on the board,” Hensley said.

The Town of Erwin has yet to name the second member that will represent the Town of Erwin on the board.

According to Hensley, the Town of Erwin will meet again soon.

“We will meet on Feb. 10 unless the county needs us to call a special called meeting earlier to name our second member,” Hensley said.

Hensley joins Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely and Mosley who will be representing Unicoi County on the board. The Unicoi County Commission voted unanimously on Jan. 27 to approve Mosley as the second member to represent Unicoi County on the board of nine. The unanimous decision came following a nomination by Unicoi County Commission Vice Chairman Jamie Harris and a second by Unicoi County Commissioner Matthew Rice.

“I’d like to thank John, he really has the heart for ambulance service,” Jamie Harris said during the Jan. 27 meeting.

The Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors will be made up of nine representatives that will consist of two members from each municipality, Unicoi County Hospital Director Eric Carroll Unicoi County EMS medical director and a member at large. It was suggested by Mosley during the Jan. 9 joint ambulance committee that one member from each municipality should be a mayor.

Mosley made a motion for Evely to have the power to select the at-large member for the board at the Jan. 27 meeting.

“The person he picks, I stand by,” Mosley said.

Following a second by Jamie Harris, the commission voted unanimously to allow Evely to make the at-large member pick.

As of The Erwin Record’s deadline, the nine-member board is made up of Carroll, Hensley, Evely and Mosley. The Town of Unicoi has yet to confirm their two representatives, the Town of Erwin is scheduled to vote on their second representative on Feb. 10. The medical director has yet to be named and Evely has yet to name a member at large.

The county panel voted uanimously to approve an updated interlocal agreement that includes a clause that the Town of Unicoi will include a funding cap by the town of $28,340 annually and will include another stipulation for the Town of Erwin.

“There is a clause that the Town of Erwin can terminate after two years with a six month notice,” Unicoi County Attorney Doug Shults said.

The motion to approve the updated interlocal agreement came from Unicoi County Commissioner Stephen Hendrix and was seconded by Jamie Harris.

“I’m thankful we will have stability,” Jamie Harris said.

Following the motion and second, Unicoi County Commission Chairman Loren Thomas acknowledged the gravity of the situation.

“This is a big deal,” Thomas said.

According to Mosley, the Unicoi County EMS Board of Directors should be established and could meet in early- to mid-February.