An Emergency Medical Services Development Committee Moves Forward in Highland


The Highland County Board of Supervisors moved forward with two items regarding Emergency Medical Services at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 5th.  The decisions are the latest in a continuing dialogue over ways to fund EMS.

In new business, Supervisor Kevin Wagner brought forward the idea to set up a committee of community involvement for EMS development, based upon suggestions made during last month’s work session with much public input.  His expectation is that the group would come together with actual information about organizational and monetary needs to compliment the Board’s budget process.  Decisions within the group would have to get started and made quickly because of budget discussions coming up in early 2018.  County Administrator Roberta Lambert and Vice Chairman Harry Sponaugle suggested the group should look at the pros and cons of different scenarios, which were eventually ordered in to three areas: all volunteer, mixed paid staff and volunteer, and all paid staff.  Chairman David Blanchard suggested a small group that might consist of five people.  Commonwealth Attorney Melissa Dowd stressed the importance of specifics for the group and that a focus on three areas of leadership structure, organization structure and operations maintenance could lead to funding suggestions.  She also mentioned that if a committee is formed, the rescue squad, which is a private, non-profit organization, would probably need to be asked to release data to the Board, such as how much is raised from revenue recovery or call lists.

After discussion, a motion was made to set up an EMS development committee, and along with that, extend an invitation for those interested to contact Roberta Lambert with more details to follow.  Melissa Dowd will move forward with goals and objectives that the Board would like the committee to address.  Board members may reach out to the rescue squad on the topic.

In old business, the Board voted to move forward with sending a letter to Senator Creigh Deeds and Virginia Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell to look at possible legislation regarding a fee structure for emergency medical services.  Even if the state legislature were to grant a right for a fee structure, the county would not necessarily adopt it; it would just be another option.

In other business, the Board held a public hearing on, and then approved, granting an easement to the town of Monterey for a sewer line extension.  It would be a permanent ten-foot easement on the east side of town for the placement of buried water, sewer or other utility lines.  Discussion from the hearing included that the current Board or future Boards would still be able to develop a street and plots in the area, but a building cannot be built over a sewer line.

In addition, Terry King, Vice Chair of the Mountain Soil and Water Conservation District, presented Chuck and Lou Ann Neely with the 2017 Clean Water Farm Award in the district, and the Board adopted a resolution recognizing their outstanding farm conservation management practices.

The supervisors also moved to approve the appointment of Robert Lightner, Larry Trey Williams, and Allen Ervin to the Board of Building Code Appeals.  The Economic Development Authority had recommended Kristie Siron be appointed for an upcoming four-year term as the EDA’s representative on the Tourism Council, and the Board approved.  They also approved Casey Thaler’s reappointment to the Planning Commission, as well as Laura Honaker and Karen Sweeney’s reappointment to the Recreation Commission.  Two vacancies remain for the Recreation Commission.


Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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