County secretive on EMS facility

By Stephanie Casanova
Manhattan Mercury – January 27, 2017

Riley County commissioners are considering other options for a new Emergency Management Services building, but are refraining from saying what other properties they’re considering.

Ron Wells, commission chairman, said after Thursday’s meeting that he can’t talk about those properties until the commission meets behind closed doors.

Wells said commissioners were also refraining from saying what property they’re considering because “if the properties are mentioned then automatically the price doubles,” because a government entity is interested in them.

The county had been in talks with the city and K-State about moving the EMS facility to the Manhattan Fire Department headquarters, in which the city owns the building and leases the land from K-State. The county recently started looking into other options after K-State assumed part of the agreement would be that the university would be able to buy county properties, including the current EMS building, genealogical society building and Pawnee Mental Health facility leased from the county.

Wells said he spoke Monday during the intergovernmental meeting about the current status of their move of EMS and his disappointment that they weren’t able to get together with K-State officials to talk about the move but Manhattan has gone to great lengths to work with them.

Wells said after that meeting he received an email from K-State inviting him to meet with university President Richard Myers.

“I think I’m getting played here,” Wells said. “I have no idea where this came from. It just popped up and I suppose it’s because of what I said Monday.”

Wells said he doesn’t want to spend money to move into the fire station and get kicked out after a year and he wasn’t sure whether he should meet with Myers or move forward with the other property he’s looking into. Commissioner Ben Wilson suggested Wells meet with Myers and get the university’s official position on moving the EMS facility to fire department headquarters and see if they’re willing to give the county more security in the lease.

Wilson said if K-State doesn’t give the county a longer lease, commissioners should look into other locations. Wells will meet with Myers March 6 and said the county won’t take any action regarding the EMS facility until after the meeting. “I think I still should look into this location I’m thinking of because I think it’s gonna be a very good thing for the county and … it would be at the lowest cost,” Wells said after telling Wilson he would set up the meeting with Myers.

Wells said he still has to look into whether the property he’s interested in has more than one owner.

The property’s second floor, Wells and Wilson said, could potentially be expanded and in the future house the county health department and other county departments.

Wells said there is also a potential to make money off the property in the future, after putting work into it.

The housing of EMS was one of many priorities the commissioners discussed for the upcoming year. Other priorities mentioned were finding a new shooting range for the Riley County Police Department and a potential restructuring of the Emergency Management Department.

The county has been working with Fort Riley to use a range on post for Riley County police training. Pat Collins, director of the Emergency Management Department, will be retiring in a little more than a year and will be difficult to replace, the commissioners said. Wilson said the commission should look into consolidating departments like EMS and the county fire department or consolidating city and county fire departments. Commissioners also said they should look into the best option for county employees’ health insurance after employees saw a significant increase in their portion of the insurance cost. Wilson suggested the county look into its share of costs for the ambulance system.

Commissioner Marvin Rodriguez, who is heading a committee to look into problems with the emergency radio system, said upgrades or replacement to the radio system is another priority the county will tackle this year.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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