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Resignations, conflict leave Floyd County EMS Advisory Council’s future uncertain

By Bob Steenson,

A potential special election this fall regarding a Floyd County emergency medical services tax levy has had a note of uncertainty introduced as two members of the committee advising the county on the issue have resigned.

Patrick Lumley, the Charles City Council representative on the Floyd County EMS Advisory Council who was also its chair, and Dawn Staudt, the AMR ambulance station supervisor who was the secretary, both resigned from the committee.

Several people called Lumley the driving force behind the advisory council, and questioned its effectiveness without him on the council.

The Floyd County supervisors discussed the resignations at their meeting earlier this week, but came to no conclusions.

Supervisor Chair Mark Kuhn said it sounded “like a personality or perhaps even an ego – who’s in control – type of situation.”

The EMS Advisory Council is tasked with gathering information then making recommendations on how to fund emergency medical services in the county – most importantly ambulance services.

Ultimately it is expected to come up with a recommendation for the supervisors on when an EMS essential services tax levy vote should be held, the amount of annual taxes that should be asked for, how those taxes should be collected and how many years the levy should last.

The supervisors will make the ultimate decision on all those questions, but they are looking to the advisory council to present information on what the best options might be.

The five original members of this latest advisory council were Lumley; Dawnett Willis, Floyd County Medical Center CEO; Staudt; Jeff Stirling, Greene Volunteer Ambulance service director; and Dave Luett, Nora Springs Volunteer Ambulance service director.

Those five had also been part of an EMS Advisory Council two years earlier that had recommended an EMS essential services levy vote that the previous Board of Supervisors had approved for the 2022 general election. That vote fell far short of the required 60% majority it needed to pass.

At a recent meeting, members of the advisory council talked about getting representation on the council from EMS personnel representing additional areas of the county, and decided to ask Kendall Nolt and Marty Parcher to submit applications to the supervisors. Neither of them had been members of the previous council.

Nolt is a Colwell firefighter and AMR EMT, and Parcher is the Charles City fire chief and an AMR paramedic, but he lives in Marble Rock and has been a lieutenant and training officer on Marble Rock Fire Rescue.

At the Jan. 22 Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors unanimously approved appointing Parcher and Nolt to the EMS Advisory Council, but then Brandy Molitor, who was attending the meeting remotely, asked if her application to the council was still valid.

Molitor, who is an AMR advanced EMT and who founded the Floyd County EMS Association, had been a member of the previous advisory council and had earlier applied to be a member of the new council, but had been voted down 2-1 with Supervisors Dennis Keifer and Jim Jorgensen voting against and Kuhn voting for.

At the meeting this week, Kuhn said the supervisors could consider her application again, and this time the vote was 2-1 to approve Molitor’s appointment, with Jorgensen again voting against.

That appointment was apparently a primary cause of Lumley’s decision to resign from the advisory council.

Lumley was attending the supervisors meeting remotely Monday, and when asked about his decision he referred to his original application, where “I was very adamant that the EMS Association should not be a member.”

He said he thought the members should represent only organizations that directly provide EMS services, and he also “questioned the character and demeanor” of the EMS Association representative.

Jorgensen said resignations from the advisory council had taken place at least in part because “we brought a person on board that was not desired by the current board, reasons being disruptive, interruptive, speaking out of turn.”

Marty Parcher, who was at the meeting this week, said he has known and worked with Molitor for many years and considers her a friend, but “she doesn’t work well with anyone.”

“Again, I’m friends with her, and have been for years,” he said. “It’s not a personal thing for me, it’s what I’ve seen professionally that she’s disruptive.”

Parcher also said that part of the reason Staudt resigned was because Staudt felt she had a conflict, because she represents AMR in Charles City and one of goals of the various groups working on the EMS issue is to replace AMR with a public ambulance service.

Molitor said remotely at the meeting this week that her goal is to improve EMS services, which is why she started the EMS Association to be able to apply for grants and to help county EMS providers get training and equipment.

She said the EMS Advisory Council meetings she had attended so far this year, not as a member, were being run informally with “discussions and input” and if she had information that she thought could help she offered it. Meetings of the previous advisory council that she had been a member of accepted comment and input freely from nonmembers at the meetings, she said.

Molitor said one of the reasons she wanted to be on the council again this year was so that she could officially participate, “because I didn’t want to seem rude or input that seems as interruption, so it could be recognized.”

“Sorry, this has caused the conflict,” she said. “I guess the overall goal is outweighed by personality or personal things. … If somebody would have maybe talked to me about it, it wouldn’t have been an issue. … I can’t do anything if I don’t know.”

Jorgensen and Parcher both said that Lumley was the driving force behind keeping the EMS Advisory Council organized and on track, and they questioned its future without him. Keifer said Lumley had impressed him with his organization at an advisory council meeting he attended.

Jorgensen said he had emailed with Dawnett Willis, the council co-chair and medical center CEO, and she said she was not interested in taking over the primary chair position, and wondered if she would remain on the council without Lumley.

Kuhn asked Lumley, “So just a direct question. Is your resignation contingent upon something or is it you’d come back if somebody else was removed from the committee?”

Lumley said he would just refer the supervisors back to his original application where he said he was “very adamant that the EMS Association should not be a member.”

The discussion on the topic lasted more than 45 minutes, and near the end Kuhn commented that it didn’t look like they had solved anything.

“I think it’s going to take another proposal during another meeting,” he said.

Jorgensen said, “Right now I don’t have the answer other than the No. 1 thing I can see that would make it go forward will be to get Pat back on board, and I don’t know if you can.”

Supervisor Keifer noted that if the county wants to hold a levy vote at a special election in September, which many people involved have advocated, “I don’t think we can afford to delay it much longer.”

Also at the meeting this week, the supervisors:

• Appointed Tim Laube, the county Engineer’s Office roads superintendent, as the county weed commissioner. Laube replaces Conservation Director Adam Sears, who has for years maintained that it makes more sense for the weed commissioner to be a member of the Engineering and Secondary Roads Department than the Conservation Department.

County Engineer Jacob Page said his department “would do it for a year and figure it out,” and he didn’t anticipate the extra duties would interfere with Laube doing his regular job.

• Approved paying Ahlers & Cooney law firm $3,494.19 for the county’s share of the costs of representing seven counties before the Iowa Utilities Board regarding the application by Summit Carbon Solutions to build a carbon dioxide pipeline in Iowa, including through Floyd County.

• Approved spending about $6,300 for MidAmerican Energy to bore a hole under Gilbert Street to the Floyd County Public Health Office to install a larger natural gas line to provide fuel for an emergency generator at that office, for Mills Inc. to hook up the generator to the line, and then to repair a small section of concrete in the parking lot where the line will emerge.

The generator itself, which was installed last year, cost about $30,000.

Floyd County Public Health Administrator Gail Arjes said the project has kind of taken on a life of its own beyond her initial desire to just have a generator powerful enough to run refrigerators and freezers where expensive vaccines are kept, in the event of a power outage.

She said a previous supervisor had recommended getting a generator powerful enough to run the entire Public Health Office, so that location could be used as a backup emergency center in the event of a disaster.

The project is being funded with a small part of the county’s $3 million American Rescue Plan Act funds, and Arjes noted that the original purpose of the ARPA funds had been to respond to the COVID 19 pandemic and bolster health facilities and preparedness for future pandemics. Later, the rules were changed to allow spending the money for almost any government purpose.

“(Floyd) County Public health is actually getting just a small part of that,” she said. “Other counties got whole new public health buildings.”

• Continued work on the county’s 2024-25 fiscal year budget.

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