BAKERSVILLE — The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners have made a significant step toward hiring a new EMS provider.
At the board’s regular session on Wednesday, Feb. 10, commissioners unanimously approved a decision to begin negotiations for a contract with Watauga Medics, which would be called “Mitchell Medics” if hired by the county.
Prior to the meeting, Director of Watauga Medics Craig Sullivan provided County Manager Tim Greene and commissioners with a list of common equipment, along with the pricing, his company would provide if chosen as the new provider. Commissioners noted their gratefulness to Sullivan for providing a thorough list and for his transparency.
“I appreciate you, Craig and the transparency you have brought to us,” Chairman Matthew “Vern” Grindstaff said. “As the commissioners have seen, with what you’ve sent to the manager here, you have been more than transparent and up front with us about what you can offer and you have, in gist, said you are here to work for the county and for y’all I am willing to do what you want me to do as long as it fits in the financial realms of our abilities.”
“In my review of what you have sent, I have absolutely no problems with what you have recommended here and what you have said you are willing to provide,” Grindstaff added.
Commissioner Jeff Harding personally thanked Sullivan for returning to Mitchell County after they did not hire the company a year ago. Last year, when the previous board was determining which EMS provider to choose, Watauga Medics made a bid of $1.455 million compared to the bid of $1.37 million Lifeguard made that was accepted by the county.
“To Mr. Sullivan and his company, personally I want to thank you very much for your willingness to come back to Mitchell County and for everything you’ve offered,” Harding said. “I think you, personally, have gone above and beyond what you should have. You very seldom find that, especially in today’s world. You’ve worked with this board, you’ve gone out of your way.”
Harding made a motion the commissioners move forward with contract negotiations, which was seconded by Commissioner Steve Pitman and unanimously approved.
Chairman Grindstaff and Commissioner Harley Masters, along with Greene and County Attorney Lloyd Hise, will meet with Sullivan and his representatives he brings along on Friday, Feb. 26 to begin negotiations.
The board previously met with Sullivan on Friday, Jan. 22 in a special meeting to discuss what his company could provide in terms of emergency services and look at one of the company’s emergency vehicles.
In that meeting, Sullivan explained other counties he serves, which include Madison, Ashe and Watuaga, all appear to be happy with their services.
“I think what I do, I do well,” Sullivan said at the meeting on Jan. 22.
Commissioners terminated Lifeguard as the county’s EMS provider during a regular session on Tuesday, Jan. 19, only six months into the five-year contract with the company.
The decision came after months of contention between the board and the provider, in which concerns were raised about service and equipment.
Greene said Lifeguard representative Josh Spencer has said he is dedicated to making the transition to the next provider as smooth as possible.