NECAS is done, Neal EMS is on the scene

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 7/19/21

The Northern Edgar County Ambulance Service (NECAS) exists only in name for a few more weeks until loose ends are fixed. It has been replaced with Neal EMS.

Members of the Edgar County Board voted …

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NECAS is done, Neal EMS is on the scene

Posted

The Northern Edgar County Ambulance Service (NECAS) exists only in name for a few more weeks until loose ends are fixed. It has been replaced with Neal EMS.

Members of the Edgar County Board voted Wednesday, July 14, to award the ambulance service contract for Special Service Area No. 2 to Jeremy Neal’s new ambulance business. Neal was the NECAS coordinator, and he put together a plan to purchase the volunteer ambulance service’s asset and operate as a private business. Voters in Northern Edgar County previously approved creating a special service area that will collect a tax to support an ambulance serving Young America, Ross, Prairie, Brouilletts Creek, Edgar and Shiloh.

“We had the closing yesterday,” Neal told the county board members Wednesday regarding his purchase of the NECAS building in Chrisman, the two ambulances and equipment, a response pickup truck and other items.

NECAS board president Kevin Julian confirmed the signing that turned everything over to Neal as the new operator.

Following the vote to award the contract, county board president Jeff Voigt congratulated Neal.

“We look forward to working with you,” said Voigt. “I think the board would appreciate it if you could attend a monthly study session to report.”

Julian thanked board members for their cooperation and patience for the nearly two-year process the NECAS board experienced while deciding the best way forward to dissolve the volunteer operation while still keeping an ambulance in Chrisman.

“It was worth it,” said county board member Dan Bruner.

After spending some time as a tabled item, Cashman Hammond’s request for a package liquor license to use in a proposed convenience store in Grandview was addressed. His request was first forwarded to Edgar County State’s Attorney Mark Isaf for a compliance review with the county’s existing liquor license ordinance before any board action. Since the proposed location is an unincorporated area, liquor license issuance is a county responsibility.

Voigt said Isaf determined there is no provision in the county ordinance for package liquor licenses.

“We can’t issue what we don’t have,” said Voigt.

He asked the board members if they favored directing Isaf to prepare an ordinance amendment permitting package liquor licenses.

Bruner objected to making a change. He said residents of the area contacted him expressing opposition to a business selling alcohol in Grandview.

“Why would you object to a package liquor license?” asked board member Phil Ludington. “I don’t have a problem with it. It is a new business.”

The other board members supported Isaf writing a new section for the ordinance. Board member Lisa Ellis, who attended the meeting by phone because she is in quarantine after COVID-19 exposure, voiced support noting it is only a matter of time until the question of a package liquor license comes up again.

Board action was taken to grant a variance so Becks Hybrids can install a solar array at the business location adjacent to state Route 133 in Paris. The request for variance is not at odds with the moratorium the county board recently announced for accepting commercial solar farm applications.

Cody Ogle of Becks said the approximately three-acre solar site will supply electricity only for the seed business, and it is expected to provide 80% of the energy the local Becks’ facility needs as averaged over the course of a year. He added the panels will not be set in concrete as permanent fixtures.

The variance was required because the current solar energy ordinance has a stipulation about how close solar panels can be to roads.

Voigt shared some good news regarding the county’s finances after the board approved transferring $72,000 from the general fund into the courthouse maintenance fund for debt payment on the 2011 courthouse clocktower restoration. He said the county is half-way through the fiscal year, has not had a tax distribution yet and still has money in its funds. According to Voigt, something that has helped the cash situation is the state is consistently on time in paying money owed to the county and has been for several months.

“I feel pretty good that we can put more money into the courthouse fund to get that caught up,” said Voigt.