Some Snead councilors skeptical of ambulance board


In a questioned three-member vote with three abstentions, the Snead Town Council declined to join Blount County’s 911 proposed ambulance advisory board. Town clerk Rae Ware advised members that with all six present, the proposal needed at least four votes to pass.

Councilman Tim Kent spoke in favor of the board but abstained in the vote, having previously noted he chairs the 911 board. Despite that abstention, he did vote to introduce the supporting resolution which will face another likely vote at the end of the month.

Mayor La’Shone Price and councilor Ann Sullins expressed their opposition to the proposal. Sullins indicated she needs more time to study the matter but noted, “I’m opposed, personally.” Elaborating further, Sullins expressed her objection to the monopolistic nature of the planned exclusive contract award, “I just want to have a choice.”

Price shared some of Sullins comments. He spoke of a nearby Altoona-based provider, “A-Med has been very good to Snead.”

Kent summarized, “I think the main gist of this is to supply the best service we can get. I don’t want anybody to fall through the cracks.”

The differences appear to lie over the exclusive nature of the proposed contract and how readily available service and quality would be for Snead. Councilors Phillip McHan, Greg Ogles, and Dale Snead appeared to accept the argument that Snead might find itself locked out of appropriate service should the town not endorse the board.

Neal Brooks, county 911 operations manager present for the meeting, sought to reveal some of the motivations behind the proposed advisory board. In general, he stated the board hoped to improve ambulance service by awarding one provider exclusive rights and hold it accountable for meeting standards the board would establish. Should the provider fail to meet standards, then the board would fine the provider.

Ogles questioned whether or not the fines would be adequate to put teeth in the requirement. McHan speculated that should A-Med not win the contract, it would likely want to provide Snead with the best service possible. Snead countered that A-Med might choose not to operate in Snead should another have the contract.

Police Chief Alan Hicks obtained assent from Brooks that individuals are free to call any ambulance service they wish. The contract would apply to county and participating municipal emergency service operators.

Brooks said the board can only control unincorporated portions of the county without agreement within municipalities. Brooks contended that should Snead reject the proposal, the town will be the only municipality to so do.

Kent asked of the proposed timetable for completion of the board composition, regulations, and request for proposals. Brooks projected a summer deadline. Kent then suggested the council await a decision until members can read the final document. Roads and subdivisions

District 2 County Commissioner Mike Painter attended the meeting to offer a proposal assisting the town and Lee Ridge Drive residents in resolving a years-long controversy over that road. Developer Terry Stover never obtained town acceptance of that road, although residents had believed he had.

Painter presented a written proposal offering his assistance in preparing the Lee Ridge roadbed in exchange for the town’s agreement to pave the drive once it met town specifications. Painter indicated residents of the drive would pay a portion of the foundational costs. The commissioner said the town could have its own engineer certify the roadbed, since the town would be responsible for maintenance once it accepted the road.

Painter also asked had the town adopted the county’s latest subdivision regulations. Price indicated it had not and appeared willing to review that for later consideration.

Painter also reported that an Alabama Department of Transportation official had inspected a portion of U.S. 278 near the old Walmart site. Town officials have complained since the contractor left that the work was faulty.

The contractor’s representative, who had agreed to meet with Painter and the DOT, did not show for the latest inspection. Painter said the state is considering pulling the bond of the contractor.

Price shared that, in contact with the DOT previously, he had been told repairs would be made by April. He noted that had not occurred.

Utilities department head Jeff Whited reported on inspection of town culverts for possible replacements. He estimates replacement of all culverts would cost $30,000. He asked what priority the council might wish to establish for any work.

He also advised members of upcoming gas-line work by Oneonta Utilities along County Road 36. That work will affect five to six miles of the road and will lead to disruptions in travel. He warned the digging may lead to ruptures in Snead’s water lines. Public safety

Hicks reported the arrest of two on charges of possession of marijuana and counterfeit currency. [The article detailing that appeared in last week’s issue of The Blount Countian.] He sought and won approval to attend the annual chief’s conference the last of July and into August.

Fire Chief Lee Netherton reported of trees within the town park which need removal. Price added his concern of some others, as councilors agreed to bid work on those. Other matters

In another vote with three abstentions, the council failed to pass a motion to contribute $1,000 to the 911 Board’s purchase of a drone. Painter, who asked permission to address the issue, and Kent, who abstained, spoke in favor of the proposal. Price said the council could vote again at its last session in May.

Councilors approved the nearly $3,000 purchase of a new copier for the town hall. Price noted the purchase price ran close to the price for another year’s service contract on the present machine ($2,950 versus $2,545). The new machine will offer more services.

Members authorized Ware to renew a maturing certificate of deposit at the best available rate. They also approved a Birmingham Regional Emergency Services System (BREMSS) requested appropriation of $144.46.

All members (Price, Kent, McHan, Ogles, Snead, and Sullins) attended the May 8 session. The council holds its regular meetings the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the town community center.