Marked Tree council tables vote on Riverside Ambulance exclusive contract

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Marked Tree City Council discussed the possibility of allowing Riverside Ambulance to be the exclusive ambulance service provider for the city Monday night before tabling the matter to see what the Quorum Court's decision would be on an ordinance regarding ambulance services.

Riverside Ambulance Director David Simmons presented the council with a contract which would make Riverside Ambulance the exclusive ambulance service provider for the city for five years. Simmons said there hasn't been a written contract with the city for a while, only a verbal one.

"Riverside has been here since 1994. It's locally owned and puts money back into the city," Simmons said. "We don't want other companies coming in and shutting down what we already have."

Alderman Mary Smith was concerned about the contract stifling free enterprise and did not want the city entering any more long-term leases. Fire Chief Jamie McCrary supported Riverside, saying they worked well with the fire department. Alderman Steve Craig also spoke in favor of the contract.

"We need to keep our businesses local," Craig said. "I think we need to use our local people. We've had no complaints about Riverside."

The city of Lepanto approved a similar contract with Riverside during their January city council meeting, while the Quorum Court--meeting the same night as Marked Tree's City Council--has been discussing a proposed ordinance to establish a 12 month probationary period for any ambulance service wishing to enter the county.

Alderman Michael Scott suggested they wait to hear what the Quorum Court does, and the matter was tabled with only Craig voting against the motion.

The council also heard from Wesley Byers, a truck driver concerned with Mayor Mary Ann Arnold's request that truck drivers begin parking at the end of Frisco Street instead of by the airport. Mayor Arnold said Entergy would be putting in three more light poles to make the area at the end of Frisco safer. She also said she was concerned about security for truck drivers parking by the airport and the weight of the trucks affecting the stability of the ground there. She said the suggestion to move the trucks was part of an effort to make the city look better as well. "I don't believe the subject is up for discussion," Mayor Arnold. "I've requested the trucks park at the end of Frisco. One of the main issues I had when I ran for mayor was to clean up Marked Tree. If we don't all work together, we're defeating the purpose of cleaning up Marked Tree." She emphasized that it was a request and not a requirement.

Toward the end of the meeting, Alderman Cleo Johnson, Jr., began a discussion about why the Carver Reunion Board is unable to hold their reunion at no charge at Carver Gym like they have been able to in past years. Mayor Arnold asked who would pay for electricity during the event. Johnson told her the city has always paid for it and "we've been using it all this time for nothing."

"The city doesn't have bottomless pockets," Mayor Arnold said.

Johnson also asked about why the gym has not been fixed up, and after much discussion about whether the city could find grant money for the gym if it can be placed on the Historic Register, Alderman Michael Scott brought up the Carver Gym Committee. "We have a Carver Gym Committee," Scott said. "They need to be more active. They need to be a little more involved to help you out. It all goes back to this: we need a full-time parks director." Scott added that the Carver Gym Committee, set up years ago, is separate from the Parks Committee, and no one on the council was sure who is on the Carver Gym Committee.

After a heated discussion--including Johnson accusing the city of never spending money on that side of town, an accusation Scott said was false--the council agreed to put the Carver Gym situation on the agenda for next month's meeting with Mayor Arnold promising to figure out who is on the Carver Gym Committee.

In other business, the council:

*approved the amended 2014 budget.

*discussed an airport grant offered through the FAA to build a taxiway. The matter was tabled.

*passed an ordinance rezoning 510 Home Street from Residential-1 to Residential-2 so a multi-family home can be built on the property.

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