Manila to have new ambulance service

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Manila City Council voted to change ambulance services at the regular August meeting held Thursday evening.

Benny Ford, manager of Pafford Ambulance Service, addressed the city council explaining the cost of maintaining a unit in Manila. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Manila Mayor Clifford Veach recommended the city change ambulance services from Pafford to Emerson.

Pafford Ambulance Service has been serving Manila since the first of year locating in the city after Medic One announced plans to leave.

"I sent you all a memo explaining how I feel," Mayor Veach said. "They (Pafford) are asking for $2,000 a month. Emerson has assured me they will sign a one year agreement to come to Manila for no extra money."

Manila presently has a $1 charge on the water payments for ambulance fees. Veach went on to say since Medic One dropped their supplement request in 2008 and Pafford has not taken any of the funds the account has accumulated $23,000 in the bank.

Veach said the $1 fee generates approximately $1,400 to $1,500 a month from the water meters and the city would have to pay the remainder of the balance of the $2,000 per month.

"If we don't have to supplement the ambulance service we could drop the $1 fee, Veach said. "The money we have accumulated can only be used for ambulance service. It can pay for the building, telephone, or electricity. I have to say Pafford has done a good job. As far as their service, I've heard no complaints. When they came in January I thought they would be here forever.

"I've had people ask me how long Emerson will be here without charging an extra fee," Veach said. "I don't know but for the first year it will save the city $24,000."

Councilman Joni Isebell, a police officer in Leachville, expressed her opinion to stay with Pafford.

"I can tell you from working with in Leachville Pafford we have a good communication and they are there when we call," Isabell said. At times in Leachville when we call the number we have for Emerson we have to call twice or call another number. When they (Emerson) come to town, they don't let us know where they are. I've never had a problem communicating with Pafford."

Councilman Leroy Douglas said the council needs to do what is best for the citizens of Manila.

"I've had good experience with Pafford and I've had good experience with Emerson," Douglas said. "That is the first news I've heard of response or phone number problems with Emerson."

"I think it is a mistake to change," Isebell said.

Councilman Larry "Whiz" Davis said he agreed Pafford had done a good job.

"They have done a good job, but it is hard for me to charge the people of Manila $1 a month when we can get the service provided without an extra fee."

Benny Ford, Pafford Ambulance Service manager, addressed the council.

"There is a reason for the $2,000 a month," Ford said. "It costs $450,000 a year to operate one unit. With payroll, health insurance, supplies, maintenance, it builds up."

He said they were getting 41 calls a month in the Manila and Leachville area.

"It takes 100 a month," he said. "The volume is just not here to pay for itself. $2,000 a month will not pay it all but it will help. I think a year from now you will be having the same thing. They (Emerson) have been around a long time and so have we. The first month we were here we had 81 calls but it has fallen."

The vote to go with Emerson ended with Isebell voting no, Linda Donovan abstaining; Dean Cherry, Donnie Wagner, Leroy Douglas and Larry "Whiz" Davis voting yes.

City Attorney Wayne Wager updated the council on the annexation project. There will be a hearing at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, in Mississippi County Judge Steve McGuire's office.

"After the meeting we will proceed and be ready to take action at the next meeting," Wagner said.

Chief of Police Jackie Hill reported on property clean-up. Some of the problems with property clean-up are on property under the control of mortgage companies out of state.

Donovan expressed her appreciation for what they are doing to get property cleaned up in the city.

Attorney Wagner said he had talked to other attorneys about ordinances dealing with property being a public nuisance or a health hazard where the city can take the property and sell it through a court procedure.

In other business:

*Mayor Veach updated the council on three airport projects. No bids had been received on the fuel system and it will be re-bid. He said there had been a lot of interest on the hangar remodeling and bids will be opened on Aug. 19th. He said he will have a preconstruction meeting on the runway widening Aug. 26. Bids have been awarded for this project.

*Mayor Veach said he had contacted people and it looked favorable for a music show bringing back some of Manila's entertainers. The show will be held at the Community Center. Among featured singers will be Jerry Jaye and his wife; Kenny Seratt; Sheila Dobbs; and others. Veach said he would like to see two shows on Saturday night and a jam session on Sunday afternoon. He said he had talked to C.R. Rogers about a sound system. He said November would be a good time to have the show. He said he had also talked to a lot of talented people in Manila who are willing to help.

*Councilmen Wagner and Douglas both expressed their interest in pursuing steps to see council terms expanded from two years to four years. Wagner said he would like to see it on the 2010 election ballot. The two councilmen agreed to gather more information on the timing and cost.

*Mayor Veach said he had the recording telephone system removed from the city's telephone service.

"I heard some complaints," he said. "It served a purpose and can be put back if we get a lot of junk calls."

*The council voted to purchase four complete storm sirens and poles from the city of Jonesboro at a cost of $500 each.

*Mayor Veach said he as advertising for bids on the two buildings formerly housing the fire department. Bids will be opened on Aug. 28 at 3 p.m.

*Mayor Veach said he had received a letter from LOPFI.

"We were late getting a premium in and LOPFI is withholding all of our funds, Veach said. "The payment was made but they are still holding our funds. I received a letter and we have to be at a meeting on Sept. 9. I told them we would have someone there representing the city. I think it is a severe penalty for a mistake but they are still holding our $77,000 until after the September meeting."

*Donnie Wagner expressed his appreciation to the Manila Church of Christ for doing a good job at the city park. They painted the picnic tables.

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