New EMS Service Coming to Dade County

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A new ambulance service is on the way for Dade Countians as bids were opened Thursday afternoon and Puckett decided to not enter a bid explaining they could not provide the services in the RFP for the amount Dade was willing to pay. As of February 1, 2021, Dade County will receive a new service. The bids have been shared with Dr. Bill Pullen who covers the emergency medical protocols for Dade and will be shared with the Fire Chiefs Association for their input as well. Commissioners will have a month to review the bids and get input before approving one of the bids next month. Case said one of the problems with Puckett was response times and that often volunteers would be on scene before the ambulance.

Three options were given on the RFP for bidders. Option A was the bidder provided everything -service, vehicles, supplies, housing, fuel, employees, etc. Option B was similar to the current agreement with Puckett EMS with two 24 hour ambulances one of which is owned by the county, county provides supplies (which Case said cost $44,000 a year to supply one truck although some is to replace medical supplies used by fire departments and others), housing, and fuel. The bidder would provide an ambulance, personnel, . Option C was design their own.

Three companies bid on EMS for Dade. AMR – who purchased Lifeguard, a former service provider for Dade – bid $679,200 on option A, $597,600 on Option B, and did not bid on C. Amerimed bid $998,856; $1,300,178; and $1,175,652.  CHI Memorial did not bid for Option A or Option B, but bid two Option C’s. Option C1 is the hospital will provide one 24 hour ambulance and one 12 hour ambulance with a subsidy of $200,000 or Option C2 the hospital will provide two 24 hour ambulances for $400,000.  Under the most recent contract (a copy of which was provided by the county) signed with Puckett in 2015, Puckett runs two 24 hour ambulances in Dade under an Option B style agreement with a subsidy of $11,250 each month, or $135,000 a year.

Commissioners discussed and later approved an easement to the City of Trenton for Town Creek Trail. The easement will run along Town Creek behind the courts facility. Upkeep of the trail would be done by the city and funding is already in place to create the trail. The county would need to retain control of closing the trail across county property when necessary and install security cameras the building is already pre-wired for.
Dr. Bill Pullen with the Dade Water Authority Board asked commissioners for money to extend the lines to the end of Brown Drive. Brown explained that due to an error by a water company employee the wrong measurements were taken and the extension was short by 290 feet. The error was just pointed out to the board this week. The water company was asking for $53,600 from the commission to pay for the additional line needed. The line for service to those residents was also mandates by the state and the Water Authority is working under time constraints. Commissioners Lamar Lowery, Robert Goff and Allan Bradford said if the county citizens needed it and the money was in SPLOST, then they were for paying to help get the extension done.
Commissioner Phillip Hartline disagreed saying he knew about the project and had been on a lot of it and did not disagree with paying the $39,000 the county had originally agreed to pay for, but did not feel the county should pay the additional for the Water Company’s mistake. Four of the five commissioners voted to approve paying the $53,600 with Hartline voting no.
Hartline was also the sole commissioner to vote no to paying for the repair of the old courthouse roof sub-structure which is in danger of collapse with any significant weight on it. Trenton-Dade Historical Preservation representative Donna Street presented the two bids received for the repair and added that the group had a $20,000 grant to help pay for the roof repair costs. Commissioners were informed that $99,000 had been set aside for the repair and Street said the county’s portion would only be $32,293 and would begin as soon as the documents were signed by the commission and submitted to the architect and contractor. Barring weather and other delays, the project should be complete by next September.
Hartline said he was not giving another dollar to Historical Preservation and the courthouse project until he had a set start date, timeline and end date. Street told him he could not ask for that as they could only do projects when SPLOST money was available and some were being done, like the windows which were completed in under a year, by fundraising in the community. Street said they had been trying to give the fire departments and projects like the Brown Road extension priority, but if Hartline wanted to give her the authority to get a timeline and end date in place then they could sit down and do so. The commission passed the motion to pay for the courthouse roof repair 4 to 1.
County Attorney Robin Rogers spoke to the commission about the proposed Timber Ordinance. Rogers said he had sent the ordinance to all the commissioners for review and had not received any questions back. Lowery asked if the ordinance would give the county any say-so between the landowner and the logger. Rogers said no.
Proclamations honoring Jane Moreland, who recently retired as Tax Commissioner and Bryan Page who is retiring from the Trenton Telephone Company and set up Dade’s first 9-1-1 system were presented by County Executive Ted Rumley.
A report from the Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority (NWGJDA) was given by Spencer Hogg. Hogg first introduced the new marketing director Top of Georgia.  Hogg spoke about the benefits of being a part of the Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority including an additional $500 per employee tax credit from the state that totals $1.95 million a year for Dade County businesses, the addition of 780 jobs in Dade County since 2012, and in the last 10 years helped bring six new companies to Dade County and assisted with three expansions.
The NWGJDA is taking calls and helping companies who want to look at possible sites in Georgia. NWGJDA helps counties and companies with research, legwork, proposals and requests for information in order to bring new business to the area.
“Companies enjoy seeing a regional approach when looking for sites,” Hogg said. “They see a labor force in the region to pull from and the four counties’ labor force is strong.”
Additionally, the four counties share the cost of marketing and expenses including membership in the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership and the Transatlantic Business Institute, both of which have hefty membership fees according to Hogg. NWGJDA is also working with Top of Georgia, a private economic development group.
Recently the NWGJDA turning their focus to tourism, Hogg said, and is right now working on a project that could bring significant tourism to Dade and Walker. 
A question was asked by Walter Moore, father of Representative Colton Moore asking for a breakdown of the budget for the NWGJDA as he would like to know exactly where the money from Dade was going. Hogg said they would be glad to get that for him.
A question regarding how much pay board members receive was asked as well and Hogg said all the board members were appointed by their counties and they receive no pay from the commission. As a matter of fact, Dade County has three members on the board – Doug Anderton, Fred Stephens, and Evan Stone.
Work should begin soon on County Road 6 with the Lookout Lake project coming to an end. A meeting was held Thursday afternoon with those involved in fixing County Road 6 on Sand Mountain. Rumley said those who use the road should expect it to be closed for awhile with the project planned for starting next month.
Commissioners also approved Proclamations declaring October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Oct. 4-10 as Fire Prevention Week and October 23-31 as Red Ribbon week; the appointment of Ricky Stephens as District 2 – Sand Mountain Representative to the Special Use Permit Board; the purchase of a John Deere tractor and mower for $83,000 to replace a 2004 tractor with a transmission that went out and a mower that has been used through two tractors and has fallen apart; and an amendment to the alcohol beverage control ordinance to bring it into compliance with state changes.
Additionally commissioners approved the Water Authority Board to break lease with Jack Sells and set a meeting for the Water Board and commissioners to discuss what to do with the reservoir land.
The videos of the workshop, meeting and post executive session can be viewed at the following links.