Construction underway for new EMS Station 1

By Thomas Wilson

   With the turn of a few shiny shovels, construction of the Carter County EMS/Rescue Squad's new Station 1 headquarters got underway at a groundbreaking ceremony held on Monday afternoon.
   Members of the Squad's board of directors along with city and county government officials were on hand to set off construction of the new Station 1 campus located on Don Lewis Road in the Watauga Industrial Park. Executive director of EMS, Terry Arnold, said Monday's event marked a new beginning for the Rescue Squad.
   "We've planned on it for about 10 years," Arnold said of the new headquarters. "We're using no county money to build it." The building is being financed by the CCRS through a 20-year bond financed through Carter County Bank.
   The new Station 1 development includes three separate buildings housing EMS administrative headquarters, rescue squad operations, and a maintenance department for squad vehicles. The new buildings are being manufactured by Star Building Systems, one of the county's top corporate citizens and local employers.
   The final portion of the former EMS Station 1 building was demolished last week. Day-to-day operations conducted at Station 1 are currently being handled out of mobile trailers. Arnold said he expected the new 18,000 square-foot building to be completed by October. The CCRS operates additional rescue stations in Roan Mountain, Hampton, and the county's west end.
   The former EMS building housed administrative headquarters as well as the maintenance department. 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. With upwards of 38 full-time employees, the Rescue Squad responded to more than 11,000 calls last year.
   The city of Elizabethton is expected to appropriate $100,000 from the city government's general fund per a request submitted by the Squad to fund a portion of the project.
   "There are few people in this county who haven't had a need for the rescue squad at some time," said Elizabethton Mayor Sam LaPorte.
   The city has an option to build its own fire station behind the new EMS station if fire department protection demands became a priority as the city's corporate boundaries expand. The city's future growth plans include a portion of property in the vicinity of the airport and Watauga Industrial Park. The city's tentative urban growth plan includes annexing at least 39 residences and up to 100 county citizens in the lower Hunter community this year. The Elizabethton Municipal Airport and land east of the Watauga Industrial Park presently lie inside the city's corporate boundaries.