New ladder truck, spay and neuter clinic among ARP funding proposals

Published 10:53 pm Monday, March 28, 2022

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With more than $11 million available, six more organizations made bids for a portion of the ARP funds earmarked for Carter County.
Dr. Robert Acuff chaired the Health and Welfare Committee’s public meeting on Monday, as the group has been tasked with making recommendations on how to best allocate the funds.
Requests heard on Monday included:
  • Caroline Chinouth from the Carter County Health Department, who asked for $127,700. The funds would be matched with $383,200 from the state to pay forĀ  renovations, expansion, IT, communications, and refurbishing of a pair of HVAC units. “The Tennessee Department of Health’s Josh Gibson helped us with our estimates,” said Chinouth. “It’s a pretty good return on the dollars.” Chinouth said the department sees 75 people per day and more than 19,000 per year.
  • The Friends of the Elizabethton-Carter County Animal Shelter, who asked for $665,000 to build a low-cost spay and neuter clinic to be operated under the 501c3. The 50 x 50 turnkey metal building would house a surgical room, surgery prep room, three exam rooms, a recovery room for cats and dogs, reception area, a laundry and break room, and two restrooms. Staff would include a full-time veterinarian, full-time vet tech, and a receptionist paid for by the non-profit group. The facility and program would help reduce the cost to residents to have their animals fixed and help reduce the number of stray cats and intakes to the animal shelter to reduce the cost to taxpayers.
  • Jilian Reece with Carter County Drug Prevention, who asked for $60,000 to create a new position ($40,000 salary and benefits and $20,000 for transportation and resources for families) to better meet post-pandemic mental health issues. Reece said the key negative public health impacts on the COVID-19 crisis are an increase in vaping in teens in grades 6-12, an increase in fatal and non-fatal overdoses in youth and adults, and an increase in poor mental health days. “We will collect data during the first year which will allow us to pursue grants to keep the program going,” said Reece.
  • David Jones representing the Carter County Firefighters Association, who asked for an additional $750,000 for the volunteer firefighter groups to upgrade equipment. The request is in addition to the $150,000 requested by Unaka and Hampton VFD. “We feel it’s important to know that it doesn’t matter where the fire department is, it cost us all the same,” said Jones.
  • Chief Barry Carrier of the Elizabethton Fire Department, who asked for $1.5 million to replace a new ladder truck. He said the current truck is more than 25 years old. “We work really well with the volunteer fire departments,” Carrier said. “There will be a lot of training involving both the city and voluntary fire departments on a new truck.”
  • Donnie Cable representing the 6th District, who asked for $538,060 for the purchase of an ambulance and fire pumper to be housed at the new building on the Sluder property. Cable said the purpose of the request was to save lives first and then protect and save property for the communities of Elk Mills, Poga, Little Milligan, Fish Springs, and Piercetown of Carter County. He said these communities have waited for over 30 years for EMS and improved fire protection. “These residents deserve the same benefits as the rest of this county,” said Cable. “They pay gas tax, sales tax, and property tax.” Cable added that the EMS service would reduce response time from 35 to 45 minutes down to 10 to 20 minutes depending on the location of the emergency.
Some of the requests made on Monday would be covered by the more than $7 million in TDEC funding that the county is expected to receive for utilities, including running temporary water lines for two bridges being replaced in the Stoney Creek area and a water project in the Laurels area at a cost of $300,000 that would bring water to 15 residents.
Acuff said at least two more proposals will be entertained at the next Health and Welfare Committee at 6 p.m. on April 5. The group will conduct a workshop at 6 p.m. on May 5 to identify the projects to present to Financial Management in June.

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