Council claims progress is being made on EMS problems
BUCKEYE LAKE – Buckeye Lake Village Council members said Monday night that progress is being made on improving Buckeye Lake Village’s emergency medical services or possibly contracting for those services.
Some residents aren’t convinced. “When can we count on going to a neighboring village for help?” asked resident Judy Allen during Monday night’s council meeting..
Former village council member Brenda Hileman asked when would there be changes in the leadership at the the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. “When will we talk about it?” she said.
Mayor Rick Baker said a public meeting has been set for Tuesday, May 14, to discuss options for emergency medical services. The meeting is currently scheduled for 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Buckeye Lake Village. “It’s all about what’s best for the village,” said Mayor Rick Baker previously, who said the village is creating cost estimates for contracting with Hebron or another municipality for EMS services or sticking with funding the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. “We’re going to try to come up with those numbers,” he said.
Buckeye Lake officials are exploring the possibility of contracting for emergency services, but ultimately it will be up to the residents to decide. “We are going to look at Hebron, and then others such as Millersport or private firms,” said Baker. “All depends on what is affordable.”
The operation of the Buckeye Lake Fire Department came into question following an in-depth study by The Beacon revealing large gaps in the department’s part-time paid staffing schedule and practices that affect response times.
Baker said holding the meeting in May would give the village ample time to explore all options, including contracting with another fire department for services, and determine how much each of those options would cost the village.
Baker said he hopes to have handouts and flipcharts ready for residents by the May 14 meeting so the cost comparisons may be easily understood. He hopes to explain to residents how much millage would be necessary, if any, to place on the November ballot to finance the various options.
“We do not have a specific agenda set for our May 14 meeting yet,” said Buckeye Lake Village Council President Charlene Hayden previously. “However, I know we will be discussing the potential levels of fire and emergency medical services that could be available to residents so they understand their choices and how much each choice will cost. We will try to match each level of service to the mills required to meet that level and the cost to a homeowner depending on the value of their home.”
Baker said Monday night that he and other village officials will be meeting with Hebron Council’s Safety Committee and Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 12 to discuss contract options. The meeting at the Hebron Municipal Complex on West Main Street is open to the public.
Columbus Division of Fire Lieutenant Doug Sanderson, a member of the fire department advisory committee that Baker appointed to look into ways of improving Buckeye Lake emergency services, said Monday night that he learned of an emergency call made at 4 a.m. with no response from the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. “If we get to the point where our EMTs aren’t responding at all...we may as well close down the department,” he said.
Baker said Monday night that he encourages residents to contact him if they believe there was an improper response to an emergency service call. “We’ll address that,” he said.
Assistant Buckeye Lake Fire Chief Rod Riley said people should remember Buckeye Lake is a volunteer fire department.
“We’re a part-time paid department with volunteers,” said former council member Peggy Wells. Buckeye Lake has three paid shifts daily: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Wells added that she had heard about a Myers Addition resident who opted to have her husband to drive her to the hospital for a heart issue rather than call the Buckeye Lake squad. When her condition worsened, Wells said the woman’s husband drove her to the Hebron Fire Station for transport to the hospital. Wells added that when her mother fell, breaking a vertebrae, she called a private ambulance service to take her to the hospital rather than risk calling Buckeye Lake.
Council member Jeryne Peterson said people have asked her to be involved with the fire department situation. “I’ve heard everyone loud and clear,” she said. “I think we have an awful lot of work to do. It’s going to take a lot of us to make changes. People have an oath to do their jobs, volunteer or part-time.” For those who take that oath simply as a title, “it doesn’t mean much,” said Peterson.
“There’s a definite problem, and we need to help, not hinder,” said council member Michelle McCormick.
“There’s a lot to be done; there’s a lot that’s been done,” said council member Clay Carroll, acting as council president in Charlene Hayden’s absence. “All we can do is keep gathering information.” Carroll said he expects that the May 17 meeting would be the first of several to address the situation.
In other council news:
• State Farm Insurance Public Affairs Specialist Kim Lust told council that village residents can help Buckeye secure a $25,000 grant for pedestrian traffic improvements on Ohio 79. “We’re hoping to spread the word,” she said.
According to a State Farm press release, the Village of Buckeye Lake answered the call from State Farm to submit causes that would make a positive impact in their neighborhood. Now the village needs your assistance by voting it to the top and bringing money to Buckeye Lake. From April 4 through April 22, anyone who has the free State Farm Neighborhood Assist Facebook application can vote for Buckeye Lake Crosswalks to help bring $25,000 to Buckeye Lake.
Mike Cassidy, Buckeye Lake Development Director, said the four lane Ohio 79 is the village’s main street. “We need all the help we can receive to ensure safe passage from one side to the other, for young and elderly alike,” states the press release. “The $25,000 will cover the cost of stripping of the crosswalk areas and the road signage indicating a crosswalk.”
According to the release, 3,000 submissions were received through State Farm Neighborhood Assist, a youth-led philanthropic program that empowers communities to identify issues in their neighborhood. At least one cause was received from every eligible state, district and province in the United States and Canada. Then, the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, a diverse group of 30 students who are passionate about social responsibility, reviewed the cause submissions and selected the 200 finalists based on criteria they created.
Once the Youth Advisory Board selected the top 200, which includes the Buckeye Lake project, the program connected each cause with a local nonprofit that can help solve the problem. Fortythree states and Canadian provinces have causes in the top 200.
The Village of Buckeye Lake has until April 22 to rally votes in the community. Participants can vote up to 10 times per day. On April 29, the top 40 vote-receiving causes will be announced on the Facebook app and a $25,000 grant will be awarded to the affiliated nonprofits.
Lust encouraged Buckeye Lake residents to log onto State Farm Nation’s Facebook page and go to Neighborhood Assist-click on Ohio, then on Buckeye Lake Village.
• Cassidy said the village is now getting reimbursed for some of its demolition expenses from the Moving Ohio Forward grant. The receipts mean the village can move ahead on more demolitions. He said Monday night that four houses are in the process of being demolished and soon five more would be torn down.
Baker said he’s pleased with the progress being made on the former Clark property block that contains the Bangkok City restaurant. He said Don Dick, who purchased the entire block, is doing a great job pulling down derelict structures, but he’s not sure of Dick’s long-term plans for the property. “It’s looking great. I’m excited about the progress that’s being made there,” he said.
Peg Mativi, CEO of Dublin, Ohio’s Solutions Staffing and an investor in the property, said the property is now named The Holstberry Family properties in honor of the original owners and their descendants.
“Our short-term goals are to clean up the property and have it look respectable for Buckeye Lake residents,” Mativi told The Beacon in an email. “The property has long been an eyesore, and our plans are to change that as quickly as possible. We have torn down run down houses, abandoned houses, trailers, burned houses, sheds and much more in the short time we have owned the property. We do have some businesses and homes that will continue to be leased who understand the importance of a clean neighborhood. We will continue to improve the existing properties that remain.”
As for as investors’ long term goals, Mativi said, “We have several ideas regarding long term goals, but right now our total focus is getting the property to a place where Buckeye Lake will be proud to have this gateway to our village cleaned up and an acceptable entry to visitors and residents alike as they enter Buckeye Lake.”