City capital outlay adds funds to EMS


Photo By Rick Harris
Demolition crews are making way for a new complex to house the Carter County EMS Station 1 on State Route 91.

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   An appropriation of $100,000 by Elizabethton City Council toward construction of a new Carter County Rescue Squad/EMS station could prove to be a valuable long-term investment depending on the city's urban growth through the next decade.
   City Council approved the use of capital outlay bonds totaling $1.25 million at its December meeting to fund a series of public works projects in the city during 2004. The capital outlay included an appropriation of $100,000 to the Carter County EMS to assist funding for a new EMS Station 1 building on State Route 91.
   The former Carter County EMS building is being demolished and will be replaced with a structure that will house new rescue operations, a maintenance department and office space. The new 18,000 square-foot building is expected to be completed by Oct. 1.
   Terry Arnold, director of the Carter County EMS, said the city has an option to build its own fire station behind the new EMS station when fire service demands became a priority.
   "We are building this thing for the complete future of the EMS and fire department," said Arnold. "You've got to look to the future."
   The former building suffered from significant structural damage as well as rusted utility lines. The EMS headquarters currently operates out of a mobile trailer, which helps cut the cost of utility bills to the EMS, Arnold said. Arnold estimated EMS responded to more than 11,000 calls last year.
   Fire Chief Michael Shouse said Wednesday there were no short-term plans to establish a city fire station in the new rescue squad building. Shouse said any department presence would be predicated on the city's annexation policies in the coming years.
   "That is something they may be looking at after the Northern Connector, but there is nothing immediate," he said.
   An area lying south of the Elizabethton Municipal Airport is on the city's short list of annexation priorities for 2004. The city department of Planning and Development identified the area, which is comprised of 50 tracts, 39 residential structures and 100 residents, under a review of the Urban Growth Planning Region.
   Big-ticket capital items funded by the bonds include $485,000 estimated to cover demolition of the Carter County Memorial Hospital building; $230,000 to purchase a new pumper fire truck for the Elizabethton Fire Department and $222,000 to pave a portion of the city's streets.
   The outlay also includes $30,000 for a new roof and repairs at the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center and $50,000 in matching dollars for an extension of the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. The airport project receives the majority of its funding through a grant from the state.
   The capital outlay also includes $133,000 for a command trailer and additional equipment for the Elizabethton Police Department.
   The city's debt extends 12 years with annual payments of $104,166 through 2015. The city's demolition of the hospital is contingent upon the government taking ownership of the property. The city foreclosed on the property in November 2002 due to delinquent real property taxes owed by owners Wayne Graybeal. The foreclosure became legally binding in February of last year. Graybeal has until Feb. 14 to pay the delinquent taxes plus a 10 percent penalty to reclaim the property.
   Council will also consider an ordinance on first reading to rezone property located at 213 East C St. from R-2 residential to B-2 business expected to make way for a Walgreens drug store development on Broad Street. The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission voted in December to approve rezoning the property owned by Sid Smithdeal and to close a portion of the alleyway located between Broad Street and C Street that extends from Lynn Avenue to the Elizabethton Church of Christ. The alley closure is also on the council agenda for consideration.
   The drug store site's developer, Ed Street, received preliminary subdivision and site plan approval from the Planning Commission last week. The approval came with a stipulation that Street acquire the parcels of property not owned by him that identified as portions of the planned development.
   In other business, the council will also consider whether to accept as a donation a portion of vacated railroad right of way from Broad Street to East Mill Street, possibly for use as another branch of the Linear Path walking trail development. David Wilson, owner of Elizabethton Herb and Metal Co., offered to donate the right-of-way to the city. Wilson's company acquired the right-of-way from East Tennessee Railway.
   Also on the agenda is a resolution to accept a bid to initiate repairs to the Covered Bridge. Intech Contracting submitted a bid of $162,000 to make structural repairs to the bridge with deductibles totaling $48,700 for new paint and lighting. The resolution asks a bid of $113,300 with a contingency of $9,200 be awarded to Intech. The Covered Bridge restoration project was primarily funded through a grant totaling $98,000 from the Tennessee Department of Transportation with the city funding the remainder of the project.