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County council tables EMS issue

Posted: January 29, 2015 4:07 p.m.
Updated: January 30, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to table the issue of who will provide the county with emergency medical services (EMS). KershawHealth currently provides the service, but with the pending lease of hospital real estate and purchase of its furniture, fixtures and equipment to Capella Healthcare, a private company in Franklin, Tenn., who will take responsibility for providing, and funding, EMS is undecided.

Council originally placed the EMS issue under new business for Tuesday’s agenda. When the issue came up, council voted to move into executive session. Afterward, Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. motioned to table the matter, which passed unanimously. Ahead of the executive session Councilman Jimmy Jones said he wanted to clarify a statement he made during council’s Jan. 13 meeting.

“I expressed my opinion as a matter of policy as to communication between Capella and the county during due diligence. This was primarily in regard to EMS, that issue and what I see as a lack of communication between Capella and the county at that time,” Jones said. “I have a right, if not a duty, to comment on policy issues involving the taxpayers and citizens of Kershaw County, I am dedicated to preserving health care and EMS in Kershaw County and for that reason I voted to enter into the letter of intent. I stand by my comments, but hope we can all move forward to preserve medical care and EMS to the citizens and taxpayers of Kershaw County.”

Council Chairman Julian Burns said he and council have the goal of providing the best services to the county.

“We are committed to working with our comrades on the board of trustees of KershawHealth, who are appointed by this council, and working with them through the tough issues that confront them to help them reach the best possible solution with Capella in the shortest period of time,” Burns said. “We have serious matters before us and I want to tell you I am optimistic, more than optimistic that we will reach a solution in due course.”

In other business, council approved the appointments of Gary Faulkenberry of Liberty Hill and Katherine Denton of Camden to fill two of three available seats on the county’s planning and zoning commission.

Council unanimously passed second reading of an ordinance amending and restating an existing ordinance on road maintenance fees the county collects as part of resident’s annual vehicle taxes. Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter said this will clarify the language of the existing ordinance and allow penalties for nonpayment of the road fee.

Council unanimously approved a transfer of funds within the sheriff’s office’s existing budget to allow for the purchase of new in-car video cameras to replace older ones that are in disrepair.

“The goal with the nine cameras we’re trying to get is to replace those cameras that aren’t functioning properly. We have been losing DUI cases because either the video is not working properly or the audio is not working properly and some of our magistrates see that as a fatal flaw in DUI cases and throw the cases out,” Sheriff Jim Matthews said. “We need to get cameras that are user friendly and are giving us good, clear resolution and good, clear audio.”

Jones praised Matthews for the way handles his department’s budget each year.

“Thank you for what you and your folks do. I don’t think many of us realize they go out there and are not only our bodyguards, our protectors, our preachers, our babysitters … they have to be everything. They have to be counselors,” Jones said. “I want to say thank you for all you do and always staying one step ahead with technology. Jim, you’ve done a good job with that. People should take a good look at how the sheriff runs his budget. He has always come in under budget and the expenditures he’s doing right now are all within the means of his budget.”

During his report to council, Carpenter had Lugoff Fire-Rescue Chief Dennis Ray introduce new Fire Marshal Will Catoe, a position made possible by a tax millage increase approved by council in last year’s budgeting.

“Will is homegrown from Lugoff. He resides in Lugoff and he is our fire marshal for the Lugoff Fire Protection District as of July 1 (2014). We appreciate your support in helping us do that,” Ray said.

Carpenter also announced Clerk to Council Merri Siegler is now a certified clerk after receiving training in her field. All the councilmen congratulated and thanked Siegler during the time set aside for their individual comments.

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