Officials break ground on EMS facility

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By TONY STINNETT, Courier Sports Editor

Cannon County officials broke ground for the Cannon County Emergency Medical Service Station Tuesday (July 8) after the low bid for the project was approved during a County Commission meeting the previous week.

While everyone seems excited about the new facility which enables every service be located to a centralized position, not all County Commissioners are pleased with its location at 102 Alexander Drive, adjacent to the Stones River Hospital.

Though Commissioners unanimously approved Brindley & Sons Construction, Inc. of Tullahoma’s low bid of $479,250, they also voiced their concern regarding the Emergency Medical Service Station’s location.

“I have no problem with the bid but there has to be a better place in this town for an ambulance center,” Commissioner Jim Jones said.

County Executive Mike Gannon reminded the Commissioners the agenda item was to approve the low bid. Commissioner Tony Neal reminded those around the table the location of the building was approved in December, 2013.

“I’m only asking you approve the low bidder,” Gannon said. “This particular agenda item has nothing to do with location, just approving the low bid.”

Commissioner Russell Reed agreed the location was agreed upon at previous meetings, but said it was still a “bad intersection.”

Gannon also explained there is discussion in the works regarding the installment of flashing lights that would inform motorists when an ambulance was leaving the facility and entering the intersection.

“We still have to figure out how to pay for that, but we have looked at something like that as an option for safety,” Gannon said.

Jones was in favor of something to warn motorists.

“We are building this at the worst intersection in town,” Jones said. “We can find the money to (install the flashing lights) or you will be spending money to bury someone. It’s dangerous.”

Commissioner Mark Barker pointed out emergency vehicles already are coming through the intersection with the Cannon County Jail located in the same area.

Commissioner Jim Bush turned the discussion to how the project would be funded.

“We haven’t discussed how we are going to pay for it,” Bush said. “We voted to buy the land and accept bids, but how are we going to pay for it?

Commissioner Neal reminded Bush that Ambulance Center Director Ricky Cope will pay for the project through his budget. The ambulance service brings in $500,000 annually. Much of the funding was made possible through a Community Development Block Grant for $300,000. Cannon County will have to provide $265,000 in fund for the project. The local funding will come out of the Ambulance Service’s budget over a 10-year period and will not raise the local tax rate.

Commissioners also voted to replace former Woodbury Fire Chief Bill Johnston with interim chief Joe Loftus on the Homeland Security Committee.

Commissioners also approved several budget amendments.

The Cannon County Commission will hold a quarterly meeting Saturday (July 12) at 10 a.m.

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