County to begin hiring for EMS department
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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
During its two-part meeting for February, the County Commission took action to begin advertising for hiring for positions with the EMS department, bringing the county one step closer to having a full-time county-wide ambulance service for Coosa’s citizens.
At the February 14 meeting, Coosa County EMS Director Hollie Osbourn stated that they would soon be ready to begin advertising the employment opportunities in the newspaper. She explained that the county-wide ambulance will be staffed 24/7 with part-time employees.
During that meeting Osbourn also stated that they had received a donation from Williams Pipeline for supplies, adding that they are “very appreciative” of that donation.
When the commission reconvened February 21, it unanimously approved to begin advertising for part-time employees for the county’s EMS department.
“We have got to get this thing started,” County Administrator Amy Gilliland said. “All the t’s have been crossed and i’s dotted, so now we need to get going.”
To start the service, Gilliland said that Osbourn will be looking to hire one to two drivers, two to three advanced paramedics and at least one basic paramedic. She added that some have already reached out to inquire about the employment opportunities, as some paramedics are looking to pick up another shift.
After brief discussion, with commissioners Brandon Davis and Ronnie Joiner absent from the February 21 meeting, the commission unanimously approved advertising for those part-time employee positions for the county EMS department.
In other business, the commission unanimously approved paying EMA Director Sheldon Hutcherson 65 hours of overtime pay because of the January 12 tornado, disaster relief and FEMA cordinative efforts. That amount is to be paid from FEMA rather than from the county’s general fund.
In related business, Hutcherson also approached the commission with a request to hire Les Sellers as a part-time employee.
Hutcherson explained to the commission that Sellers’ time with the county’s Board of Registrars is coming to an end. He said that Sellers had served as EMA director for many years and then as an assistant director for some years.
Hutcherson stated that with Sellers’ time with the Board of Registrars coming to an end he would like permission to hire him as a part-time assistant EMA director with a monthly stipend of $500. Hutcherson added that this would also enable Sellers to remain on the county insurance coverage and be able to drive the county vehicle.
He provided commissioners with a copy of the job description for the EMA assistant director position, prepared in February. He stated that Sellers serves an important role and that he also does the county’s floodplain management and helps do grants.
In a letter to the commission from November, Sellers stated, “I love living in Coosa County. I feel blessed to have had the chance to serve for my time with the BOR [Board of Registrars]. I want to continue to contribute so long as my input is positive.”
After brief discussion, the commission unanimously approved hiring Sellers as a part-time EMA assistant director for the county.
Also during the February 14 meeting, the commission once again heard from Louis Hines with Demographic Research Services regarding the county’s redistricting. Hines provided commissioners with a map illustrating the proposed redistricting and where the new district lines would be drawn.
Hines explained that he had made “very minor tweaks” between districts one and two, stating that “no big changes” were needed.
He added that he also made a minor tweak for districts three and four to help keep a few voters in District 3 from having to go vote in Equality. He stated that County Road 109 would be staying in District 3, but that another portion with a few residents would move into District 4.
The commission reviewed the proposed changes with Hines and asked questions. Hines then confirmed that the commission was OK with the proposed changes and explained that the proposed redistricting map will be available for the public to review.
Following Hines’ presentation, the commission unanimously approved advertising for the county redistricting. A map of the proposed new district lines is available for the public to view at the County Courthouse in the Commission Courtroom.
Registered voters are welcome to submit questions or comments concerning the proposed new districts via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to Coosa County Commission; P.O. Box 10; Rockford, AL 35136. The commission will vote to approve the new districts at its March 14 meeting.
In other business, Commissioner John Forbus presented the commission with a letter from Jimmy Bailey and Brett Peters requesting that the county close Kerry Lane in the Goodwater area.
The letter, in part, reads, “We respectfully request the closure of Kerry Lane, an abandoned road near Goodwater in Coosa County. This road is no longer used for mail route or public utility maintenance. It’s [sic] main purpose now is for dumping garbage, dead and live animals, night hunting, mud riding, loud music, and drinking. We have provided with this letter the names and addresses of home and/or property owners on this road, which all agree with its closure.”
County attorney John K. Johnson reviewed the information and mentioned there being a “laundry list of requirements” entailed with the county vacating roads. He asked the commission to table the matter so that he can get more information together for the commission to review, and as such the commission unanimously approved tabling the matter until its March meeting.
In other business, between the February 14 and 21 meeting, the commission also:
- Unanimously approved opening an Opioid Settlement Account at First Bank in Rockford, with the county being required to have a separate account for those funds as they come in.
- Unanimously approved the establishment of a private cemetery consisting of 0.18 acres in District 2.
- Unanimously approved and adopted a resolution from the Stewartville Water Authority to reappoint Randall Morris to the board for a 6-year term.
- Unanimously approved sending a letter of support for the Town of Goodwater to purchase the National Guard armory building.
- Unanimously approved for Commission Chair Bertha K. McElrath to sign the Tribal Funds Allocation Resolution, with Coosa County being eligible for $100,000, which is being paid in two stipends.
- Unanimously approved for McElrath to sign the Liability Fund Participation Agreement and the Longevity Participation Resolution with the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, which is done annually.
- Unanimously approved for Rockford Mayor Scott White to install an automated external defibrillator, or AED, in the Rockford Senior Center.
- Unanimously approved for McElrath to sign the opioid settlement sign-on agreements and resolution.
- Unanimously approved accepting the insurance proposal from VFIS for the EMS department, which includes coverage for the ambulance, rescue truck and the items and equipment associated with both vehicles.
- Unanimously approved re-advertising for bids for wast disposal after receiving no bids as of the previous deadline.
- Unanimously approved McElrath and attorney Johnson signing the fiscal year 2023 Certifications and Assurances for the Transit Administration, which is done annually.
Also during the February 14 meeting, the commission spent approximately 35 minutes hearing from a handful of individuals regarding various matters during the public comment portion of the agenda.
Chris Elliot, Central Coosa softball coach, approached the commission with a request for funds to be used for the purchase of a batting tunnel to help improve the program, stating that it would also improve the facility, as well.
Shelby and David Mann addressed the commission with concerns regarding the bridge on County Road 16, mentioning the road conditions and the bridge being in “bad shape.” Mr. Mann stated that he would appreciate it if the commission would do something about it.
The commission also heard from Sharon Coffman, chair of the Coosa County Long Term Recovery Committee, providing information on the county’s disaster relief and recovery efforts.
Coffman thanked EMA Director Hutcherson for his “tireless effort, even though his own home was totaled.” She further reviewed the background information about the January 12 tornado, its impact, recovery efforts, the county’s Long Term Recovery Committee being formed at the request of the Governor’s Office of Volunteer Services, gaining access to resources, and updates regarding the committee.
She mentioned the committee’s volunteer cleanup days to assist storm victims. She also stated that the committee needs a warehouse space as soon as possible for materials, tools and more coming into the county and asked that the commission let her know of any available warehouse space the committee may be able to utilize.
The commission also heard from Charles Orr of Nixburg regarding a petition he presented to the commission for the county to return to hand counting ballots during elections.
He thanked the commission for the opportunity to speak to them about “the proposed resolution to return to hand counting of ballots, not using the current ES&S DS 200 and thumb drives, as well as the state-issued laptop to compile the votes.”
“In just 12 months the primary elections begin for 2024,” Orr stated. “A recent Rasmussen poll indicated that today seven of 10 voters have lost confidence in the integrity of the election processes. Seven of 10 – making the sustainment of our Constitutional Republic all the more dubious.”
He mentioned the areas of concern being voter roll integrity and electronic voting machine accuracy. As such, he asked the commission to consider the petition and the request for the county not to authorize the “purchase, lease, or use of such demonstrably vulnerable electronic voting systems within its jurisdiction.”
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Coosa County Commission will be held at 9 a.m. March 14.