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  • Last modified 194 days ago (May 10, 2018)

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Commissioners heat up again

Staff writer

Although county commissioners had a short agenda they moved through quickly, discussion of Emergency Medical Service stations became heated.

Commission chairman Dianne Novak said she put EMS stations on the agenda because she’d been hearing “rumblings” about having a full-time staffer on duty in the Peabody station.

Novak said she calculated the cost of adding a full-time station to Peabody at $300,000 to $450,000, and Peabody staff are called out 22 to 23 times each month.

“If it is in fact the desire of the commission to have a third ambulance station, I’d like to put it on the ballot,” Novak said.

The issue of having full-time staff at Peabody has arisen in prior commission meetings, sparking contention then as well. On March 19, Novak questioned having full-time staff at the Peabody station and was met with director Ed Debesis’ contention that she was “micromanaging” him by questioning his decisions. At the end of that meeting, Debesis returned to submit his resignation, which he has since rescinded. Commissioner Randy Dallke, who has long contended that Peabody needs full-time EMS staffers, told Novak after the resignation that it was “all her fault.”

Commissioner Kent Becker looked confused and asked Novak how she’d arrived at her estimate of $450,000.

She said she’d used the salaries of current employees, and that she does not believe the number of Peabody calls justifies the expense of making the station full-time.

“I know Randy would like to have an expanded service down there,” Becker said. “Keep in mind that we could lose the Hillsboro station at any time.”

“I don’t think you understand the history of this,” Dallke told Novak in a raised voice. “I know you don’t.”

Dallke argued that Novak “wants no ambulance service in Peabody.”

“I didn’t say that I want no service there,” Novak answered.

“Can you sit still and shut up for once?” Dallke countered.

“We were never asked by anybody to put full-time service in Peabody,” Novak said. “This is something you and Ed were already working on.”

County clerk Tina Spencer said the county hired a consultant who recommended operating the service with two or three full-time stations.

“His recommendations were not put into effect,” Spencer said.

“My point today is, with an election coming up, let the people decide what to do,” Novak said.

Spencer said she doesn’t believe it would be a legal ballot question except as an advisory referendum.

Becker said he wants commissioners to revisit the past study.

Novak said she wants the board of commissioners involved in decisions instead of things “popping up during the night.”

“You seem good at picking on things and I don’t understand why,” Dallke said.

Last modified May 10, 2018

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