Moran, Humboldt need new EMS barns

opinions

January 5, 2017 - 12:00 AM

The condition of Humboldt’s ambulance station is “an embarrassment,” Humboldt Administrator Cole Herder told the Register. Moran’s may be better, but it, too, needs substantial upgrades or replacement, personnel there say, on condition of anonymity.
Allen County commissioners discussed the two ambulance buildings Tuesday, after authorizing purchase of a new ambulance.
Several things have struck commissioners from discussions they have had: Space at Humboldt is severely limited, so much so that backing an ambulance into port is difficult; living quarters in each are barely adequate, and morale would improve with improvements.
With Iola operating the countywide service, and the county with obligatory and financial interest, Humboldt agreed to provide a service building. The one in Moran is rented from a private party.
What should be done is simple enough, and as with all governmental decisions, money and accord enter the equation.
In the best of all worlds, a combination fire and Emergency Medical Services building would be erected in Humboldt. The city owns a large lot near where such services are dispatched. Humboldt council members have considered a new fire station for some time and with Sean McReynolds, local dentist, fire chief and master organizer, according to Herder, such an arrangement could quickly find a workable design.
Moran has a relatively new fire station, next to City Hall, and recently merged its service with rural interests. Making an addition for ambulance personnel is a possibility.
Having medical and fire services under one roof would open a conduit to federal grant money, and, in Humboldt’s case, would be more financially realistic than building separately.
However, Herder mentioned another solution. If volunteer firefighters were to move to a new building, the one they now occupy would be more than adequate for an ambulance and its crew.
Then, Humboldt could put its old city hall on the market — as is, the ambulance service occupies the rear of the building. Whatever was realized would help pay for part of a new building and/or refitting the old one for ambulance.
Also, an agreement between the county and the two cities would open the door for commissioners to dedicate funds in hand, as well as enhance grant opportunities.
Citizens in incorporated areas, such as Iola, Moran and Humboldt, pay county property taxes, the same as those in unincorporated areas. They should reap benefits commensurate with their financial obligations.
County coffers have been fattened by taxes collected on Enbridge’s new pipeline and pumping station, mainly in the Humboldt and Moran areas. Assessed valuation soared by about $40 million. A levy of 1 mill made against the valuation would raise $40,000.
This is a good time, with the county having funds in reserve, to look to the future and provide emergency responders better bases from which to work. Those dispatched from Humboldt and Moran deserve to be treated as well as those in Iola.

— Bob Johnson

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