Price of EMS building litigation up to $52,000; dive team gets financial support

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The Jackson County Board of Commissioners Monday approved in a 3-2 vote payment of $7,590.99 to Keith Hayes Construction toward the EMS facility construction and add another 90 days to the project timeline resulting from an initial architectural design delay and the impact of the temporary restraining order.

That brings the county’s cost of the ongoing litigation to $52,000. A Monday called meeting will likely highlight the cost to taxpayers.

The board also granted a request from the Jackson County Dive/Rescue Team for $20,000 to properly outfit four divers with professional gear to safely mount a rescue or recovery effort.

However, while half of the funds will expend all the funds from the Emergency Management Agency’s 2013 equipment budget, coming up with the remaining money will be tasked to County Manager Kevin Poe and the 19 volunteers who make up the team which formed two years earlier. The team has already held a barbecue fundraiser.

A presentation by the dive team put dive boss Larry Stevens, an engineer with Georgia Power who volunteers with Jefferson Fire, and Parker Griffin, who is affiliated with Sandy Springs, Arcade and Jefferson Fire and Rescue, before the commission making a presentation.

Stevens told commissioners an emergency in Arcade in which a boy removed from the water could not be revived prompted a renewed effort at a dive team. There was an original dive team formed in the 1990s.

“We started asking for volunteers and were ready to go,” said Griffin, who shared that team of dedicated volunteers impressed divers and instructors with the Georgia State Patrol so the teams trained together monthly. “We need some professional equipment.” He said what is currently in use is team members’ recreational equipment “which we can get by with but it’s not safe.”

A number of the dive team members who represent a diverse group of law enforcement and fire and rescue personnel, both full-time and volunteer, as well as other fields of work, including a doctor at Northridge Hospital, were in the audience.

“We have a very diverse group made up of different professions throughout Jackson County,” said the men.

Training includes 120 hours of class, Public Safety I and II, plus the monthly training and annual checkout swims.

Four sets of gear and a list of needed equipment would total $19,830.54, according to an estimate from Lake Jocassee Dive Shop in Salem, S.C., supplied as a part of the dive team’s presentation package which also had photos of the old ambulance EMA director Steve Nichols was able to supply for the team to adapt to carry its gear, training exercises and a checkout dive at Bear Creek Reservoir.

Commissioner Bruce Yates said it was his hope that municipalities would also step up to help make up the remaining $10,000.

Poe said the team’s request for an annual $5,000 budget for maintenance of the program could be included in next year’s budget planning process.

Chairman Tom Crow made the motion to approve the $10,000 from the EMA equipment budget with the team reporting back next month on progress to secure the remaining funds. Yates provided the second and the motion got a unanimous nod.