OKOLONA – Chickasaw County is glad to answer a call for help, but supervisors have asked the local ambulance service to make sure Chickasaw taxpayers are covered first.
The Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors met with Sheriff deputies and 911 dispatchers last week to discuss ambulance service coverage for the community.
“We got a call last weekend from Clay County 911 saying there was an ATV accident at Mudslingers and they were requesting an ambulance,” said Chickasaw County Chief Deputy James Myers. “This is a business in Clay County that lets people ride four-wheelers and we’ve been out there several weeks in a row responding to calls.”
Myers said Clay County 911 dispatchers even argued with Chickasaw County 911 dispatchers that Mudslingers was in Chickasaw County.
“It just out the other side of Enon and it is close to the line,” Myers explained. “It is also closer for Houston or Okolona to dispatch an ambulance than for one to come from West Point out there. But it is in Clay County.”
Chickasaw County 911 Coordinator Barry Martin said he had no problem sending help to anyone who needed it but he did want direction from the board since it could leave Chickasaw County without ambulance service.
“If we have an ambulance taking someone to Tupelo and then get a call out there and then get a call in Houston or Okolona, our people are going to have to wait,” said Martin.
Both Martin and Myers pointed out Clay County is wet and Mudslingers has grown to admitting several hundred four-wheelers every weekend.
“Off road racing like that is hazardous and those people pay to play,” said District 4 Supervisor Jerry Hall. “I don’t think it is our responsibility. I am glad for Chickasaw County to be a backup but I don’t think we need to be primary responder out there.”
The board agreed and directed Myers to contact the Clay County Sheriff’s Department and Clay County 911 about there decision.
The county is currently negotiating its contract with Transcare Medical Service who provides two ambulance in Chickasaw County. Ambulances are traditionally stationed in Houston and Okolona to serve county needs.
Trace Regional Hospital’s decision to close its emergency room and open a 7-day clinic has also prompted the county to look at getting more ambulances to cover Chickasaw County. Trace’s decision will make getting emergencies in an ambulance and off to an emergency room in Tupelo, West Point or Calhoun City critical in saving lives.
In other business:
• The county was told they can expect health insurance premiums to rise from 10 to 15-percent next year.
The board was told by insurance agent Leslie Smith with L.S. & Associates the county has seen more than $800,000 in claims over the past year and those expenses will be passed on to county employees in January.
“We have a program called ‘Healthy You’ that can help your employees reduce there premiums,” said Smith. “It provides screenings and routine health checkups that help us head off major illnesses and disease before they happen.”
Smith said the program has been offered to Chickasaw County employees for several years but participation by the county’s 160 employees is one of the lowest their network.
Supervisors discussed making the screenings and checkups part of an annual health fair and making attendance for county employees on the county health insurance mandatory.
• The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters and named county employee Ed Myers as the subject of the discuss as required by state open meeting law. No action was taken once the board came back out of executive session and there was no open discussion of the matter.
• The board met with representatives of the Dixie Regional Library about maintenance needs at Okolona Carnegie Library. The county said Dixie Regional needed to contact the City of Okolona about their concerns with a roof and gutter and general maintenance of the Carnegie Library.
• The board met with County Engineer Carrson Neal about creating a list of roads and bridges that need repairs in advance of 2015 county elections.
Mississippi law prevents city and county officials from implementing major road construction projects in the last four months prior to summer primary elections. The law is new for Chickasaw County this election cycle.
“Tell me what you want to do now and we can do some estimates and get these project on a list,” said Neal. “Then as a board you can work it out among yourself which ones are a priority.”
Hall said the bridge at Davis Lake and Davis Lake Road is a high traffic artery in need of repair and he felt it served more people on a daily basis than just about any road in the county.
“I don’t think anybody on the board would object to us looking at that road,” said Hall. “It affects all of us and some if it is eligible for state funding for repair.”