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County commissioners discuss purchase of new ambulances, approval of bicentennial calendar

The Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners held a regularly scheduled meeting on June 20 at 6 p.m.

The first item on the agenda regarded the calendar for bicentennial celebrations in Gadsden County, which the board voted unanimously to approve.

The commissioners then made a proclamation to designate June 2023 as National Homeownership Month.

Staff members of the Gadsden County Housing Department were called to stand with the Board of County Commissioners while the proclamation was read aloud by Chairman and District 3 Commissioner Kimblin NeSmith in the front of the meeting chamber. 

The staff were then presented with a framed copy of the proclamation.

The board next made a proclamation designating July 16-22 of 2023 as Pre-trial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week, and the staff of the Pre-trial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Group were also called forward while Commissioner NeSmith read the proclamation aloud, and then presented with a framed copy.

Another proclamation in honor of Bostick Temple Christian Center was read aloud by District 5 Commissioner Ronterious Green in recognition of the many outreach services performed by the church including providing food for local children, and a food pantry that consistently serves over 500 families weekly.

The Board then asked if any citizens had non-agenda items for discussion.

Alma Venisee came forward to address the board and put the word out that her non-profit organization, Investing in Our Youth, is expanding services to assist the homeless in Gadsden County.

The program is meant to make available low-barrier and low cost housing to those who need it.

Venisee also said the program needs a Case Manager to help the potential new residents navigate any hurdles to getting into a home, and that she has discovered that there is a shortage of available housing in Gadsden County. 

The next item on the agenda was approval for the lease-purchase of two new ambulances to replace units which are at their end-of-life stage. 

According to the request, the Gadsden County EMS fleet has only two backup vehicles, one of which has an odometer reading in excess of 400,000 miles.

The request was approved unanimously.

The board then heard a request for the reappointment of Ralph Higdon as a representative to the Quincy-Gadsden Airport Authority.

Higdon previously served a three year term in the position beginning in 2020, he is a Gadsden County resident and business owner who has been active in the Authority’s operations, and the Authority requested his reappointment.

The board voted 5-0 to reappoint Higdon for another three year term. 

Two change orders for the Havana Middle School sidewalk project were next considered by the board.

The project will expand the sidewalks near the school from 5th Street to Iron Bridge Road, and on Iron Bridge Road from 11th Avenue to County Road 12A.

The first was due to a miscalculation of the size of a drainpipe, and finding a lower bid to fix it than estimated by an engineer hired by the County.

The change order would reduce the cost of the contract by $5,230, and was approved 5-0 by the board.

The second change order for the project involved the discovery that signposts marked for relocation were shorter than required for Florida Department of Transportation standards, and the requested $300 contract reduction was also approved 5-0.

The next item to be considered by the board was the purchase of new playground equipment for the East Gadsden Recreation Park and Multipurpose Complex. 

Three different companies, Pro Playgrounds, BOSS Playground, and Beyond Your Ordinary provided two quotes each, one for the equipment only, and the other with the cost of installation included.

A motion was made by District 2 Commissioner Alonzetta Simpkins and seconded by District 1 Commissioner Eric Hinson to approve the purchase, and the matter was opened for discussion by the board. 

After some discussion, the board decided to table the issue to give the commissioners more time to make sure they would make the best decision, and possibly hold a special meeting on the matter.

The board then examined a request to approve a proposed county EMS Education Agreement.

This would be an update to the current agreement, and is part of a comprehensive strategy to address the current shortage of firefighters and paramedics in Gadsden County by improving recruitment ability and facilitating retention by introducing a contractual obligation in return for reimbursement of educational costs.

This item had previously been discussed in a workshop meeting, and after a brief introduction, the proposal went straight to vote.

The board voted 5-0 to approve the agreement.

Stephen Klein – Gadsden County News Service