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‘Free’ EMT housing isn’t

Staff writer

County commissioners got a surprise Monday — a $900 bill for what they thought was going to be free housing for emergency medical technicians in Hillsboro. Or, at least, two commissioners were surprised.

Hillsboro mayor Delores Dalke told the county on March 13 that Hillsboro was willing to pay for housing and meals if the county would commit to hiring full-time crew members to be stationed at Hillsboro.

Crew members would be housed in an apartment in the basement of a clinic connected to the old Hillsboro hospital, now Salem Home. They also would receive three free meals per day at the nursing home cafeteria.

When the mayor met with emergency medical services director Ed Debesis to show the proposed living quarters, commission chair Randy Dallke went along.

“When the chairman of the commission came over and looked at it with Mr. Debesis, he said, ‘We can’t take this free,’” Dalke said. “I called Jared (Jost, chairman of the board of Salem Home), and he said it was being offered free.”

The mayor was surprised the commission chair had showed up.

But he tells a slightly different version of the story.

“I said we ought to pay something, thinking it was the city of Hillsboro,” Dallke said. “She turned her hands loose of that and turned it over to Jared.”

When confronted with the $900 bill at Monday’s commission meeting, the chairman never mentioned that he had offered to pay rent, though he did recommend that the commission agree to the lease since “this is what the board of the hospital is asking for.”

Commissioner Dianne Novak said it had been her belief the apartment would be provided free and the county would pay only utility bills.

County counselor Susan Robson agreed.

“I think there was a miscommunication between one office and another,” commissioner Kent Becker said.

The lease, between Salem Home and Marion County EMS, specifies the county will pay utility bills. Chairman Dallke said the building has one meter to serve the clinic and two apartments. The lease also specifies that meal tickets can be purchased from Salem Home.

The chairman urged the commission to send the lease back “for clarification.”

Becker said the hospital board and the city of Hillsboro needed to figure out what their intention was.

Robson was assigned to contact people in Hillsboro.

Dallke said he saw the issue like an ant against a mountain, and the commission should just pay the rent.

“We move on,” Dallke said. “We’ve got so much bull—— going on with the commission anyway. If we’re going to put this service on the ground, we’re going to have to pay for it eventually.”

Jost wouldn’t comment.

“I wasn’t at the commission meeting today, so I’m going to have to wait until I talk to people before I make any statements,” he said Monday.

Last modified June 8, 2017

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