Volunteer Fire Department and health insurance highlight Health and Welfare meeting

With a new year comes plans for change, and Carter County is already coming up with ways to improve their dealings with the county for the foreseeable future, both within and without.

Fire Chief Jack Buckles of the Volunteer Fire Department at Stoney Creek spoke to Carter County’s Health and Welfare Committee meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the formation of a unified task force, linking together fire departments, Emergency Medical Services and first responders to more effectively serve their communities.

Buckles said he had been working on this idea for the last year, but the idea stalled after talks with the city.

“I wanted to unite fire departments so we can work together,” Buckles said.

Though committee members said the concept of consolidation was never easy to talk about, commissioner Brad Johnson said the change would be necessary.

“I think we are going to have to look at this,” Johnson said. “These guys are a required service for our community.”

Buckles said the work the volunteers and employees do is vital, but not infallible.

“I am proud to be a volunteer fireman, but there are ways we can be more efficient,” Buckles said. “We did a lot better in the past when we worked together.”

The committee did not discuss specific details on what this task force would entail, but it did vote to keep the conversation going in the near future.

Health insurance became another key topic during the meeting, with a presentation from an independent insurance broker detailing the changes to their current health care program.

The presentation described a roughly 3 percent premium increase over the past five years

These come after price increases 13 percent two years ago and a 9 percent increase last year.

“It sounds like you are baiting us,” Johnson said. “Insurance companies are legalized robbers.”

The presentation briefly considered the possibility of a self-funded insurance plan, which the committee discussed in length.

They said many of their employees cannot afford to put their family members on their insurance plans, meaning they are one major illness or accident away from financial hardship, an issue Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said is made worse by the restrictions placed on programs like Obamacare: if a company like Carter County offers any kind of alternative, they are ineligible for Obamacare.

The committee voted to explore how nearby counties implement their own self-funded insurance programs and to come up with a possible plan to create their own.

Local news

CCSO, TSA warn of scam calls claiming to solicit funds for sheriff’s association

Local news

Elizabethton High School FFA places 2nd in Regional Envirothon competition

Arrests

Recent arrests made by Carter County Sheriff’s Office

Local news

Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter overrun with dogs

Arrests

JCPD arrests Spartanburg man in drug bust

Local news

Milligan students honored at Awards Convocation

Local news

Kathy Campbell and Mike Nidiffer join Renea Jones’s campaign team

Local news

Committee recommends hiring accounting firm to help Finance Department

Community

Senior Center Schedule

Community

Elizabethton Choral Club presents spring concert at First Baptist

Community

UHS Class of ’64 enjoys reunion

Community

Watts Dance Showcase Dancers present ‘Good Man Charlie Brown, Other Dances’ Sunday

Local news

Local animal lover donates $10,000 to Elizabethton Spay & Neuter Clinic

Arrests

Elizabethton Police Department reports series of arrests in recent weeks

Local news

Happy Valley Elementary releases fourth grade honor roll for third nine weeks

Church News

Church Briefs

Local news

Spring choral concert scheduled Sunday at EHS Gymnasium

Church News

Benefit lunch for Wayne Singleton scheduled Sunday at Blue Springs

Local news

TN poised to expand access to opioid treatment at community health centers

Local news

Strawberry season is here in Tennessee

Arrests

Johnson City man arrested on child abuse and neglect charges

Church News

Why is God full of truthfulness?

Local news

Dance, dine, and discover at ETSU’s Corazón Latino Festival

Local news

County students see dramatic portrayal of prom night fatalities