Hamburg Mayor Dane Weindorf said that Ashley County areas outside the city limits will have an ambulance service even though the county government has said it will not help fund the effort.
The City of Hamburg reached out to the Ashley County Quorum Court and asked for $3,000 per month to aid in the ambulance coverage outside of the city limits.
The City of Wilmot has also pledged $500 per month to aid with the ambulance subsidy to Pro Med Ambulance service, which Hamburg started in early March.
Weindorf said Monday that even though the county had declined to help and some of the other cities have not responded to a letter requesting help, that the county would still have coverage.
“We are still going to have first class service, so when someone says ‘are they going to come out to Promiseland’, ‘are they going to go to Wilmot,’ the answer is yes,” Weindorf said.
“Wherever they are needed, if they need it in Crossett, he’ll go to Crossett.”
Councilman Mike Sanderlin asked if there was any other financial pledges, and the mayor said that only Wilmot had pledged.
“The rest of the county better shop Hamburg,” Sanderlin said, alluding to the sales tax that supports the ambulance service.
Public Works Director Jimmy Hargis questioned why the Quorum Court wouldn’t help the citizens.
Weindorf said he had requested aid, had been told no and that he didn’t want to continue asking.
“I’m tired of asking them; I get the message,” Weindorf said.
ProMed Chief Executive Officer Ken Kelly gave the council a report and status update on how the ambulance service has been running. Kelly said they were operating slightly above budget and responding so quickly that their response time average is below the state standard. The average response time in the city limits is six minutes and 17 seconds, and the national average is seven minutes and 58 seconds.
Kelley also reported on the training that his employees have participated in over the past month and talked about classes and trainings that will be hosted at the Hamburg Fire Station.
The ambulance service will start moving into the new fire station on Monday. Kelly said once they are moved in, he is working to offer Emergency Medical Training (EMT) classes to promote interest in the field.
“We saw this major decline all over Arkansas, but particularly in south Arkansas, of people not enrolling in EMT courses,” Kelley said.
A community interest survey was held last month and Kelley said 98 applicants from the area were interested in EMT training. The EMT classes offered at the Hamburg Fire Station will be to certify people who are looking to help part time and to build interest in the this area of employment.
“It will give us some part-time help that we can use and part-time employees to work on the ambulance now, but also hopefully cultivate that interest so that people will go on to paramedic school,” Kelley said.
In other news:
-In April, the Quorum Court members discussed how Hamburg had not been paying the agreed amount for the dispatch service that the Ashley County Sheriff’s office provides to Hamburg Police Department.
Both parties discovered that though a verbal agreement for $48,000 had been in play for years and smaller amounts had been paid prior to that, no agreement had been in writing for more than 10 years.
“Other than a letter from (former) Mayor Hennington to (former) Sheriff Robinson, there is nothing else and that tells you how long the agreement has been in place,” City Attorney Paul Keith said. “There is nothing else written down and that should be changed.”
Sanderlin suggested that it be required that a new agreement be entered every time a new sheriff, mayor or city judge takes office. Weindorf suggested that it be done annually.
Councilwoman Derenda Stanley asked how much money the Quorum was asking for compared to the $48,000 the city was offering based on its previous budgeting process.
“They originally asked for $48,00, but then one of the Quorum Court members said ‘Why don’t we do $55,000?’” Weindorf said.
Councilman Daniel Shelton questioned the July 8 deadline the Quorum had given and asked asked if an agreement with the county could be made before then. The mayor said that he felt like they could reach an agreement by the deadline.
“The county will not leave our officers out there high and dry, we will come to terms,” Weindorf said. “They kind of rule what we do, but it would cost the city $140,000.”
Weindorf said if the county was agreeable, the city would pay the county $4,000 on July 1 and each month for the rest of the year and that the past due balance would need to be worked out as well.
-The council voted to allow Hargis to move forward in the legal process to condemn the properties at 204 S. Gardner, 605 Bulloch, 416 Cemetery, 411 S. Gardner, 903 W. Lincoln, 310 West Lincon, 932 Brown St. and 417 East Lincoln.
-The mayor said he wanted to encourage everyone to stay together and pray together in light of the recent Georgia Pacific announcement.
“We’re resilient and we are strong and we’ve got a good relationship with our Lord and Savior, and he’ll lead us through this,” Weindorf said. “But we will have to tighten our belts and the city and I will lead the way in figuring out where we can do stuff.”
Weindorf told the council that he and other elected officials were planning to meet with the lieutenant governor next week. Stanley asked if there was any news or new developments that might help. Weindorf said he didn’t know of anything yet, but that having 500 trained people with jobs that already live here should encourage companies.
“If I was a company looking to relocate, having a labor force already trained will help get new industry in here,” Weindorf said. “There is also plenty of jobs within a 50-mile radius of here that these people can go and drive to.”
-City Clerk Peggy Akers said Hamburg’s legislative audit went well with one exception.
“It was something we couldn’t help that we were written up about,” Akers said.
Someone forged Hamburg checks and though the city got all of the money back, they were still reprimanded in the audit.
“We thought it was a little tacky that they wrote us up on something that we couldn’t help, but that’s just something they do,” Akers said.
-Weindorf said that bids were in and some of the city streets would soon see repairs on the east side of town.
“We will do Grace, Barnes, East Railroad, Bennett and Pine where the railroad crossing was-where it’s real rough- we’re going to fix that and parts of MLK,” Weindorf said.
The mayor also said that the city received a refund of $51,000 for other road work and asked that he be able to put a portion of that money with the current $100,000 that was already in the budget to repair roads and that the remaining go to capital improvement fund.
The council voted to allow the mayor to spend $130,000 on road improvements and that the remaining funds from the $51,000 refund amount go to capital improvement.
-Shelton asked Police Chief Johnny Oliver to update the council on recent homicides and the string of break in.
“I know you can’t give pertinent information, but just that you’re investigating because people are asking questions,” Shelton said.
Oliver said that the state police were leading the investigation on the recent homicide. Oliver said there is a suspect, but they don’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.
Oliver also said that one arrest had been made on the breaking and entering cases and they are working to identify a second suspect.
-Weindorf said that he was working with the Hamburg School District to see if they could pay a portion of the School Resource Officer salary.
“Since we are biting the bullet on everything else, I’ve asked them to help on that,” Weindorf said.
Weindorf said that if the school would help with the SRO salary it would lighten the load on the city in paying for the ambulance service and the dispatch service.
“What the police do, what the ambulance do, what the fireman do, it’s a part of our city and we’ve got to take care of these things,” Weindorf said. “We can have potholes, but when you don’t have an ambulance to pick you up when you’re sitting there bleeding that hurts.”