When it came time to decide on either providing water to the Smokey Branch area or seeing if new ambulances could be purchased, the Monroe County Commission decided to go with the emergency vehicles.

The County Commission, in its January meeting, wanted to go after both until County Mayor Mitch Ingram told them the money would come from a Community Development Block Grant and the county could only apply for one at a time.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director Randy White told commissioners the conditions of the current ambulances and there was no question which would be sought first.

“I spent $40,000 on maintenance in the last month,” White said. “At one time, we were down to only two trucks working.”

Ingram said if the grant comes through, the county could purchase up to three ambulances with the money from it. Ingram did not say how much the grant, if acquired, would be for, but the National Fire Protection Association says the cost of an unequipped ambulance is around $150,000 and it usually takes another $100,000 to equip one.

White did say, “If we don’t get that grant, I’ll have to put the cost of a new ambulance in my budget, putting the cost on local taxpayers.”

The commissioners expressed regret over not helping the Smokey Branch Road area with water at the time, but felt the ambulance situation could not be overlooked.

The County Commission also agreed to buy the old Monroe County Rescue Squad building, located below the jail, as the squad has moved into its new headquarters on New Highway 68 just outside of Madisonville.

Ingram said the county would give the squad $20,000 for the building, the amount it cost to build it in the late 1950s. Ingram said the building would serve a dual purpose as storage for both maintenance and solid waste.

“It’s 6,500 square feet,” Ingram said, “and we’ve got tools and other things stuck all over the county. This will help put everything in one place.”

Commissioner Marty Allen said he was not against buying the building, but, he said, “As generous as we’ve been to the Rescue Squad, they could just give it to us.”

“We need the building,” Ingram said, “and they need the money we’re paying. It needs some roof work, but we’re getting a lot of room we desperately need.”

The board also authorized a Census Committee for the upcoming 2020 census, made several budget amendments and after the meeting, Allen said the commission is still looking at more employees for the new jail, but is concerned about the budget and does not know if “six or 60 employees” will eventually be hired.

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