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County to hire 2 full-time EMTs

Staff writer

Marion County Emergency Medical Service is looking to hire two full-time EMTs, which EMS director Ed Debesis hopes will be paid out of existing funds.

Debesis told county commissioners he’s sent emails to existing staff members to see if anyone is willing to work for the department full-time.

“We’re looking to work within the system,” commissioner Randy Dallke said. “The bottom line is, we’re short on our ambulance coverage and we’re trying to see if we can get some ambulance coverage.”

Wichita-based Omni EMS Billing will be asked to come meet with commissioners to discuss the possibility of the county hiring Omni to take over billing for the department. Omni Billing charges 7.75 percent of revenue collected for billing services. The county is months behind in billing.

Dallke said that if Omni is hired, the move will not cost any existing department jobs.

Rain damage to county roads was a topic both when road and bridge superintendent Jesse Hamm spoke to commissioners about damaged areas throughout the county and when Mike Beneke, who lives at 2876 280th Rd., spoke about damage in his part of the county during public comment session.

Hamm said road damage after recent rains is so pervasive he’s given cameras to all his employees.

“With the rains we’ve had, we’ve got a lot of damages, so we’ll be taking pictures and documenting,” Hamm said.

Hamm said crews are working on the roads as promptly as they can, but frequent rainy days make it slow going.

Beneke brought in numerous photos of holes in roads, log jams and washouts in his area of the county.

He said he’d contacted the county shop to request warning signs because of safety concerns.

“There are teen-age drivers, even though there’s no school, there’s plenty of activities,” Beneke said.

Beneke said maybe a good solution to the situation would be to keep some warning signs at his house. He said he feels he’s been ignored and lied to when he’s called the county shop.

“There’s a whole bunch of people living out there,” Holub said. “We’ve got this all over the county. Every time we get a rain, you think the county should come over and take care of your road, you come and say that somebody’s ignored you or somebody’s lied to you.”

After Holub’s words, Beneke continued handing photos to commissioners and telling them where the damage was found.

Commissioners listened to a request for a substantial budget increase for the Area Agency on Aging, but took no action.

Julie Govert Walter, director of the North Central Flint Hills AAA, said the agency needs an increase of nearly $14,000 over last year’s budget request. Last year, Marion County gave AAA $4,577. This year AAA is asking for $18,562. The agency provides a variety of services to the 3,428 Marion County residents over age 60.

“I wouldn’t be coming and asking for this if we didn’t need it,” Walter said.

The money is needed because AAA will have to provide health insurance next year for Friendship Meals employees who work more than 30 hours per week, she said. The requirement to provide the health insurance is federally mandated, Walter said.

Commissioners’ reactions weren’t hopeful.

“We’ll have to tax for that, thanks to Obamacare,” Holub said. “That’s the only way we can pay it, thanks to the state.”

Govert said the agency’s other options would be to hike the price of a meal or to cut back the number of days Friendship Meals are provided.

Last modified June 2, 2016

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