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Board tables franchise addition

WINTON – The Hertford County Commissioners got mixed signals Monday night.

The two differing opinions led to the board tabling a decision on granting a new franchise agreement to White Oak Medical Transport.

The conflicting opinions started when Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director Kevin T. Davidson presented the findings of the committee appointed to study the need for emergency medical transport in the county.

Davidson said a quorum of the five-member committee was not present for a recent meeting, but that two members did meet and made recommendations to the commissioners.

The group started with recommending the renewal of franchises for Bertie Ambulance Service and East Care ALS. They also recommended the non-renewal of the franchise for Ahoskie Rescue Squad and Winton Rescue Squad.

Both of the organizations who were recommended for renewal met state and local requirements for granting a franchise.

The Ahoskie Rescue Squad was recommended for non-renewal because of “certain items of non-compliance,” according to Davidson. Winton wasn’t renewed due to lack of providing service, the director said.

He also said the two members of the committee present suggested granting a franchise to White Oak Medical Transport.

Commissioner John E. Pierce asked if it were true that Hertford County EMS did not provide transport from the hospital to the nursing homes between 12 midnight and 2:30 a.m.

Davidson said there was currently only one Hertford County truck in operation at that time and it was not possible to get on-call staff to Winton in a timely manner. Bertie Ambulance Service, however, was available.

“I was told that these people had to take their elderly mother back to the nursing home in their personal vehicle because Bertie was on a call,” Pierce said. “That’s not a good situation.”

Hertford County Manager Loria D. Williams then told board members that she was called away to Raleigh and missed the meeting, but had discussed the packet with Davidson before the group was to hold their session.

“I am in agreement with the recommendation except for White Oak,” she said.

The manager said she did not believe there was a demonstrated need for more medical transport.

“What about in light of what Mr. Pierce said,” Commissioner Johnnie R. Farmer asked. “Maybe we do need an additional franchise.”

Williams said she believed the addition of another Hertford County EMS unit in June would alleviate the problem.

Commissioner Dupont L. Davis said he believed they could act quickly on the renewals and non-renewals and made a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation. Pierce offered a second and they passed without objection minus Commissioner Curtis A. Freeman, who was not present at the meeting.

Davis asked County Attorney Charles Revelle if the board could simply table the recommendation on White Oak.

“You can do that if you choose,” Revelle said. “The affect of it would be they could not operate in the county now, but you could choose to grant a franchise at a later date without them having to go through the process again.”

Davis moved to table the White Oak application with Pierce again offering a second. It passed by the same vote.