by Paul Darst
Rugged hills coupled with snowy winters make getting around Harrison County difficult in the winter.
But by the end of this week, traveling on treacherous roads will be less of a worry for the paramedics and emergency medical technicians at the Harrison County Emergency Squad.
County commissioners Tuesday approved the purchase of a new four-wheel-drive ambulance for the squad, which should be in service by Friday.
"This will be the newest four-wheel-drive ambulance in the county," said John Todd, president of the squad's board of directors.
"This is sorely needed at this time of year especially."
The squad will make 36 monthly payments on the 2001 Ford van, according to the terms of the contract signed during Tuesday's meeting.
The purchase is another indication of the squad's revival during the past year-and-a-half, Commissioner Tom Keeley said.
With the commission's help, and a revamping of the way it managed its finances, the squad has been able to overcome the money problems it faced last year.
As further proof, the squad announced last week that insurance is now available to its employees for the first time.
"We've made great progress," Keeley said. "We've gone from being two days from bankruptcy to having $230,000 in the bank."
This will be the squad's third new ambulance since the turnaround, Keeley said. Their current four-wheel-drive vehicle is a 1988 model.
In other action, commissioners:
n Partially approved a request from Sheriff Wayne Godwin, who asked them to put an additional $2,500 in the corrections department overtime budget. The commission originally put $2,500 in that budget, but those funds are nearly depleted halfway through the fiscal year. Commissioners agreed to put an additional $1,500 in the budget.
n Considered a request from the town of West Milford, which asked the county for $1,639.97 to purchase equipment for a new police cruiser that the town funded through a grant. Commissioners unanimously agreed to turn down the request, fearing it would set a precedent for other county municipalities. They did offer the town any surplus police equipment they might need, however.
n Agreed on Dec. 29 as the date for a public ceremony for the swearing in of all county elected officials. The event is scheduled to begin at noon on the last working day of the year. The officials and their deputies will take the oath of office one after another.
Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.