By MIKE WEST/ Courier Editor
Cannon County Commissioners voted Tuesday (Feb. 12) night to file for a $300,000 federal grant that could lead to construction of a new headquarters for the Ambulance Service.
This grant, coupled with local funds, could help solve several problems facing Cannon County, said County Executive Mike Gannon.
"If we are funded, if we build it, this will let us move every service to a centralized position," Gannon said. This would include relocating the Emergency Management Agency equipment from Gassaway to Woodbury, he said.
"My intention is to move Emergency Management to Woodbury," he said.
The planned building would be large enough to accommodate 20 to 30 years of growth, Gannon said.
"Ricky Cope and I have been working on this for two years," he said.
"We need a new building bad," Ambulance Service Director Cope said.
If the Community Development Block Grant is approved, Cannon County will have to provide $265,000 in funds for the project. The local funding will come out of the Ambulance Service's budget over a 10-year period and would not raise the local tax rate.
Cope said the Ambulance Service is generating sufficient funds to cover the costs thanks to its new billing process.
Plans are to construct the headquarters building next to Stones River Hospital.
Conditions in the current building are atrocious.
Commissioner Kevin Mooneyham said the showers at the current building are full of black mold. "I doubt if any of you would use them," he said.
Mooneyham also passed around a sticky sheet that was covered with bugs.
Bill Sewell, Tennessee Department of Health, EMS division, said the Cannon County Ambulance Service has had to exist in a building they inherited. The current structure has storage and security problems in addition to being extremely overcrowded.
"The call volume and workload has increased by 200 per year. They need room desperately, but despite this they have maintained an A rating for the last 10 years," Sewell said.
A particular problem with the current building is that it is impossible to maintain a correct temperature inside it. The FDA requires an environment with proper temperature levels to maintain the quality and life of medications used by the Ambulance Service, he said.
"The need now is a new ambulance service building," said Amanda Maynard of Grassroots Planning and Consulting. $300,000 is the maximum Cannon County can apply for. In addition to drafting the proposed grant, Grassroots Planning looked at ambulance services in Tennessee counties the approximate size of Cannon.
"Everyone around us has built new ambulance stations," Maynard said.
"I feel optimistic that we will be approved," Gannon told the Commissioners who voted 8-0 in favor of the project.