Ambulance plans

A sketch of preliminary plans for ambulance service headquarters includes office and meeting spaces, a lounge, and restrooms that will include showers. 

ROMNEY — Broadband access will be available “shortly” in the Rio and Kirby area, Commissioner Brian Eglinger announced at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.

The commission also heard plans to provide the county ambulance service with permanent quarters at the 911 Center.

Eglinger, who represents the County Commission on the county broadband initiative council, said HardyNet fiber optic cable laid up through Rio to Hampshire Gas in Kirby should “light up” today, beginning the testing needed before residential customers along the route can be added to HardyNet.

Enough money was available to extend the network beyond Hampshire Gas, including running fiber to the top of the mountain on Grassy Lick, Eglinger said, and people in the area can soon expect to be offered service.

In the meantime, the broadband council continues to work its way through the steps necessary to bring HardyNet access to the town of Capon Bridge, extending the access currently available in the Capon Bridge Technology Park.

The commissioners also heard from county ambulance agency co-director Brian “Tad” Malcolm and director of operations Terry Puffinburger, who presented a sketch of renovations planned for the building beside the 911 Center that will provide quarters for the ambulance service.

At present, the service is operating out of a cubicle in a corner of the 911 Center basement.

After plans have been reviewed by a building engineer and the state fire marshal, the next step will be preparing an RFP —requesting services of a contractor, Malcolm said.

The agency is still reviewing options for permanent quarters for the ambulance currently stationed in Capon Bridge.

Puffinberger also presented July statistics indicating the ambulances had been alerted 200 times, an average of just under 6.5 alerts a day, and transported 37 patients. Over half of the calls, 114, had been cancelled — presumably taken by county rescue squads before the county ambulance arrived, and county ambulance staff members were credited with 26 assists offered to rescue squads.

Slightly over half the calls for ambulances came from the west side of the county — 75 from Romney and 30 from Springfield. There were 38 calls from the Augusta area, 28 from Slanesville, 18 from Capon Bridge and 11 from Capon Springs.

In other business, county development authority Executive Director Eileen Johnson asked the commissioners to pay $600 for a survey at the old hospital building that will separate the hospital property from buildings being used by the Romney Rescue Squad.

Commissioner Dave Parker asked about separating utilities and providing access to the property, and was told sewer and water connections had been separated several years ago, though road access was still being worked out.

The 2 buildings used as residences will also be separated from the hospital property at the same time, Johnson said, though the development authority was not asking the county to pay for this part of the survey.

Once separated from the rest, the hospital property can be marketed for development. Johnson said the development authority has a potential buyer.

Commission President Bob Hott announced that the county will be getting a new county agricultural extension agent in September, after sharing an agent with Hardy County since November 2017. o

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