Legislative committee 5-2 advances RuralMed RFP award for full board approval

Members of the Effingham County Legislative/Personnel Committee of the Whole discuss an issue Monday afternoon during their regular meeting. Pictured from the left is Legislative Committee Chairman David Campbell, County Board Chairman and Legislative Committee Vice Chair Jim Niemann and committee members John Perry and Elizabeth Huston.

The Effingham County Board is scheduled on Tuesday to again consider whether to switch from Abbott EMS to RuralMed as the 911 ambulance provider.

During its December meeting, the board considered a six-month extension of Abbott’s contract, but did not act. Now it’s back to deciding on RuralMed, which would have 60 days to fulfill obligations required by the county for it to take over.

County Board Chairman Jim Niemann said he would direct the Effingham County State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler to contact the Abbott EMS legal department to get an extension set if RuralMed is not approved on Tuesday.

RuralMed was recommended by the Ambulance Oversight Committee, chaired by Rob Arnold.

“I don’t know how you can offer a contract to someone (RuralMed) who is not authorized to operate in (Illinois Department of Public Health) Region 6,” said Board Member John Perry during a meeting this week of the Legislative/Personnel of the Whole committee . “They haven’t made an application to operated in Region 6.”

“Isn’t that the next step?” Board Member Norbert Soltwedel asked.

“The (Request for Proposals) says they either have to operate in Region 6 or in a region that is as strict as or stricter than Region 6,” Niemann said. “The RFP also says they have 60 days after the award to get in Region 6 and have to put a bond to guarantee they will be able to operate in Region 6.”

The committee voted 5-2 to advance the vote on RuralMed to the full board. Niemann, Arnold, Joe Thoele, Norbert Soltwedel and Heather Mumma voted in favor; Perry and Doug McCain voted no.

Elizabeth Huston abstained from voting. Huston and her husband, Adam Huston, and a group of Altamont investors, co-own a new ambulance service known as A-1 Emergency Medical Services, which has a mutual aid contract with Abbott EMS and provides ambulance services in the Altamont area.

In other committee action, members approved advancing to the full board a proclamation recognizing Effingham County School Choice Week.

They also endorsed an amendment to the ordinance setting the per diem rate for county board members by adding an underlined and highlighted sentence that says “All per diem and mileage times must be submitted within 60 days.”

Two items Childcare Committee Specifications and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Workplace COVID regulations were discussed, then added to the full county board agenda without committee recommendation to allow time clarify the actual wordage of each item.

Niemann presented to the committee a list of potential child care committee members created by Soltwedel that should be part of the new committee.

Niemann said Soltwedel suggested there should be at least two county board members on the committee, a representative from the library, a representative from the Effingham County Regional Growth Alliance, a representative from Project Child, the director or a representative from a child care center, a representative from Crisis Nursery, a business owner, a family provider and one to two parent representatives. Niemann said the Project Child and child care center director should not be voting members of the new committee due to a possible conflict of interest.

“For an example if we gave money to Crisis Nursery, they would have to be an ad hoc member of the committee,” Niemann said.

“What is the mission or purpose of this committee?” Perry asked Niemann.

“The new committee would basically research the child care shortage we have here in Effingham County,” Niemann answered.

“A number of families that can’t find childcare,” Soltwedel added. “Probably the biggest question really is the availability of it, but quality is an issue as well. This is designed to provide the board with expertise on the subject.”

Arnold suggested adding representatives from all communities in Effingham County.

Niemann said the committee shouldn’t be too large. Niemann said he would work more on the make up of the committee, then present it to the full board without recommendation.

“I would like to see this committee be named as soon as possible so we can move forward,” Soltwedel said.

The committee advanced by a majority vote to the full board the appointment of Norma Lansing to the Economic Development Board for a term starting Jan. 18 through Sept. 30, 2023. Lansing is currently serving on the Economic Development Board after she was appointed by the full board to serve May 17, 2021 after retiring from her position as long-time Effingham County Chamber of Commerce President & CEO on April 30, 2021.

Charles Mills can be reached at charles.mills@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.

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Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.