City, county stress community strength

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November 20, 2012 - 12:00 AM

The words “EMS” and “merger” were not mentioned in Monday night’s city council and county commission meeting at the Bowlus’ Creitz Recital Hall — rather the two groups focused on community.
The meeting was planned to aid communication between the city and the county regarding attempts to merge EMS services that have been ongoing for years. The difference in this meeting was that there was a moderator, former Iolan Fred Heismeyer.
Heismeyer led discussion between the groups, not pertaining to any EMS negotiations, but involving a general, positive discussion about Allen County.
With a marker in-hand and a writing pad displayed in front of the two groups, Heismeyer had the community leaders list what they thought were strengths of the greater community.
“It’s so easy to forget the good things groups have,” Heismeyer said. “It’s important to move forward in the process.”
Council members and county commissioners wrote down strengths that included everything from “fiscal responsibility” to “volunteerism.”
Iola Mayor Bill Shirley said it is important to recognize that the city of Iola and Allen County work together on subjects very well, and do so almost every day.
“We do work together, and we have for a lot of years,” Shirley said. “The disagreements can be blown out of proportion.”
City council member David Toland even cited disagreements about the merger as a positive aspect, saying that “we can disagree more agreeably than many other counties can.”
While discussions about a merger never came up, many attendees discussed the topic of communication between the two entities.  City council member Nancy Ford  said everyone needs to be open to change in order to move forward with any discussions.
County  commissioner Dick Works expressed his desire to move forward with the discussions.
“I’ve been waiting five years for this meeting,” Works said.
The meeting concluded  with a  full list of positive aspects of Allen County, as well as opportunities for the future. Toland said the meeting is important and both parties need to recognize that agreements will not take place overnight.
“You don’t get married on the first date,” Toland said.

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