Local News: Ambulance panel hires attorney (6/27/17)

The Eastern Carroll County County Ambulance District commission has hired Fayetteville attorney Curtis Hogue to provide legal assistance in the process of pursuing a long-term contract with an ambulance service.

Hogue met with the commission during an evening session on Thursday, June 22, that lasted for almost two hours.

Hogue said his rate is $275 an hour, billed in six-minute increments. He told the commission that he would not require a retainer fee, but instead will send a monthly bill.

Hogue’s first order of business will be establishing interlocal agreements between the commission and the municipalities in eastern Carroll County: Berryville, Green Forest and Oak Grove. Those agreements would allow the ambulance service provider selected by the commission to provide emergency ambulance service within the cities. An interlocal agreement with the city of Alpena also may be necessary, although there is is some ambiguity on that issue. Alpena straddles the Carroll/Boone county line.

Hogue said he would contact the city attorneys for Berryville, Green Forest and Oak Grove the next morning to begin the process of establishing the interlocal agreements.

The commission also voted to advertise for bids from emergency medical service consultants who could provide advice to the commission in preparing a Request for Proposals from ambulance services.

Green Forest Mayor Charlie Reece, who chaired an advisory committee that established preliminary specifications for ambulance service in eastern Carroll County as part of the process for creating the ambulance service district, cautioned the commission that hiring a consulting firm might create a significant expense.

He also urged the commission to quicken its pace toward awarding a long-term contract, cautioning against “paralysis by analysis.”

“That’s kind of where we’re headed,” he said. “… I keep hearing ‘consultants, consultants, consultants.’ I’ve dealt with consultants. They’re pricey.”

Commission chairman David Stoppel said a consultant would be able to evaluate the needs of the ambulance district based on call volume and other factors and advise the commission on how many ambulances are needed and where they should be located.

Reece, who recently authorized Southern Paramedic Service to accept emergency calls in Green Forest, expressed frustration with the process.

“I get impatient,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“I share your concern,” Stoppel said. “I want to have it done immediately,…

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