Deed leads to new ownership

Published 3:43 pm Saturday, March 27, 2010

AHOSKIE – One good “deed” may lead to another.

Last week, the Town of Ahoskie was the benefactor of the old Ahoskie Rescue Squad property, located on the corner of First Street and Pembroke Ave.

Now, with the deed to that property in hand, Ahoskie officials are weighing their options on what to do with the 38-year-old building. One proposal may revert the property back to its original service – that of answering emergency medical calls in the town and surrounding communities.

“We may try and work with the county and have them use it as a sub station for EMS (Emergency Medical Services),” said Ahoskie Town Manager Tony Hammond. “That’s what the building was used for all those years. It’s designed to house a rescue squad, complete with overnight sleeping quarters, a kitchen area, bathrooms, etc.”

First, Hammond said he would join the town’s building inspector at the property to see what is needed to make it a “workable” area.

“We are already aware that it is in need of some cosmetic work,” Hammond noted. “We just need to come up with a price and then place that amount in our 2010-11 fiscal year budget to have the work done on the building.”

Hammond stressed that if Hertford County officials agree to the EMS plan, the town will still own the property and take care of the utilities.

“Our main concern here is providing faster EMS service, especially during the nighttime hours, to the citizens of Ahoskie and those living on the outskirts of town,” Hammond said.

Currently, Hertford County EMS stations one of its rescue vehicles at the Ahoskie Fire Department during daytime hours.

Proud past

Fifty-plus years ago, those in need of emergency medical assistance at home or at work had basically no other avenue than to call a funeral home for help or transportation to a medical facility.

In 1958, a group of local men, committed to serving their community, launched an effort to form the Ahoskie Rescue Squad. A vehicle was donated to the fledging organization by Shoup Boating Company of Winton.

Four years later (1962), 23 men were on the rescue roster. Together, they filed for a charter with the State of North Carolina as the Ahoskie Rescue Squad, Inc. (ARS). Upon being granted that charter, ARS joined the State Association of Rescue Squads and remained active until July 2008 upon Hertford County EMS providing emergency medical transports 24/7 throughout the county.

The charter members of ARS were Deans Brett, Eugene Mustain, William Paul Sharp, Fred Hill Jr., E. Bryant Norville, John E. Askew, John Raymond Askew, Albert R. Bracy, Grover C. Rawls, Jack Young, Carroll Credle, W.H. Bryan, Rufus C. Overton, Carroll Askew, Linwood Holloman, M.B. Cartwright, Hunter Sharp Jr., Richard W. Feher, Eddie Lawrence, Baldwin Renner, Henry Futrell, Kenneth Phelps and Bobby Greene.

Those men became the heroes of the local area, answering calls for help during traffic accidents, boating accidents, residential accidents and looking for lost individuals. They were there for expectant mothers, often delivering babies before the patient could be transported to the hospital or doctor’s office.

For the first 11 years of existence, the ARS received a new station wagon every year from local auto dealer Charles H. Jenkins.

By the time 1969 rolled around, the squad was growing to the point where they were adding vehicles. Unfortunately, they had no home to call their own, instead parking their vehicles at the Ahoskie Fire Department and Marshall Askew’s service station on Main Street.

In the early 1970’s, ARS members began to talk in earnest about the need for their own building. Using $16,000 and lots of volunteer help, including industrial arts students at Ahoskie High School, the squad completed a building project on two lots they purchased at First Street/Pembroke Ave. That building was expanded in the mid-1980’s where a bay area for five vehicles was constructed.

Over the years, the squad was the beneficiaries of support from local citizens and businesses. Included in those efforts was the annual radiothon conducted for nearly 30 years by WRCS of Ahoskie.

After 50 years of service (1958-2008) to its community, ARS opted to continue to make a difference in the lives of local citizens by deeding the property over to the Town of Ahoskie. But to do so, the board of directors of the now defunct squad had to reconvene and reach a consensus on the transfer of the property to the town.

“After a long discussion, it was decided to let the town have the property,” said Lonnie Skinner who had served as ARS President. “Looking forward, we felt it was in the best interests of the good people and businesses of the Ahoskie area to have this building to continue, in some way, to serve those citizens and those businesses. We also reached this decision in honor and memory of those who proudly served the Ahoskie Rescue Squad as well as for those whose contributions and donations over the years greatly supported our efforts to serve the area.”

Joining Skinner on the reconvened ARS Board of Directors were Carroll Askew, Robert Cutler, Randy Skinner, Eric Whitmeyer, Don Upchurch, Bryant Norville and Bill Whitmeyer.

The transfer of the property took nearly two years to complete.

“After the squad closed its doors in 2008, they were without a viable and active board of directors,” Hammond noted. “They had to reconstitute their board in order to follow state requirements. After that took place, the town, the squad and the attorneys for both parties got the ball rolling on this and we were all able to work out the mechanics of the transfer of the property.”