Archived Story

Township remains opposed to study

Published 8:10am Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If a study is to be done on the pros and cons of combining the area’s ambulance and fire services, it won’t happen with the approval of Niles Charter Township.

At their regular meeting Monday, township trustees decided not to give their support in pursuing a state grant that would completely fund the study.

Trustees came to the same conclusion unanimously during a meeting Nov. 4. This time, however, the authors of the plan — Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service director Tim Gray and Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb — were present to answer questions.

Lamb said he and Gray began looking two years ago at possible ways to make the area’s ambulance and fire services more effective and cost efficient. The plan came out of that effort.

“This was a concept… a plan to show what our thoughts are. There is nothing set in stone,” Lamb said.

Gray said the study would determine if the plan makes sense. If it does, he said SMCAS and its owner municipalities would work together to determine how to proceed.

Trustees remained skeptical of the plan.

Township Clerk Terry Eull and trustee Chris Vella both said they felt like the township wasn’t involved in the process of creating the plan.

“I can’t support something we did not have a part in,” Eull said.

Gray said municipalities have had ample time to review the plan and Lamb apologized if anyone felt out of the loop.

“That was not the intent,” he said.

Gray and Lamb only need support from two municipalities to submit the application for the grant that would fund the study. They’ve been seeking support for the past couple months and have already received it from the City of Niles, City of Buchanan and Bertrand Township.

Also Monday:

• Trustees unanimously approved a 12-year industrial facility tax abatement for R & M Manufacturing, which specializes in custom machining. The company says it will purchase more than $124,000 in new equipment and retain 14 employees. The company, located at 2424 N. 5th St., has been in Niles since 1947.

• Trustees tabled a motion that would allow SMCAS to independently pursue a line of credit without approval from its owner municipalities. Gray said the credit line would only be used for emergencies, not for day-to-day expenses. Township Treasurer Jim Ringler said they needed to present the issue to the township’s lawyer before a decision could be made.

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  • jason spitler

    Why is the township so opposed to the idea of potentially have better resources to help the township residents? Is it because the firefighters may actually have to run medical calls? Firefighters out there have already threatened to get the union involved if they were forced to run medical calls, and have even refused to respond when requested even though they have the equipment needed! Let’s get the public involved and let them know how the firefighters are not willing to redpond and assist with their medical emergency!

    • KT

      The fire department is the MAIN reson none of this happens. The good ole boys club includes the departments too not just the elected officials!

  • jason spitler

    This is free money for a study to see if the residents of Niles Township can be better served. Are the officials afraid the study may recommend a merge, and the firefighters may have to run medical calls? I have heard of the firefighters threaten to get the union involved if they are forced to run medical calls. The have the equipment necessary to assist the residents of Niles Township, however, they refuse, even when requested!

    I guess that is the price we pay for keeping the “good ole boys” in office! Lets bring back Kidwell, and get the public involved!

    • KT

      Hmm, so Kidwell and Tonkin had more in common then not?

  • Tom

    This board action of opposing a feasibility study is absolutely ridiculous. Why would having a study done and paid for with grant money, provoke such an ugly response from some of these board members? It seems like they are more concerned about pleasing their fire chief than they are about the lives of the citizens.

    All that this board was asked to do is provide a letter stating that Niles Charter Township supports having a feasibility study done. A STUDY! That’s all.

    The study would assess the current fire fighting services and emergency medical service (SMCAS) in the area and then offer information that would help EVERYONE become better educated about a very serious and important public safety matter. Since when has obtaining information become such a threat? If it ever came to the place that a consolidation of local fire department services with SMCAS was to be considered, the people of all of our communities would vote on the issue.

    These board members are denying the citizens the opportunity to have valuable information that would assist all of us in becoming better informed on a subject that we obviously need to know more about.

    We are co-owners of SMCAS and Tim Gray has been communicating at all of the budget hearing meetings for years, that the demand for emergency medical service is escalating and there is less money to pay for that service. This feasibility study would be a great way of discovering options that could be considered to provide an improved ems and fire service.

    For any one of these board members to say that they were left out of coming up with an idea reflects very poorly on him/her. Get your heads out of the sand. This subject of consolidating or merging has been talked about for YEARS. If you don’t know anything about it then blame yourself, not Tim Gray and Larry Lamb.

    Just another example of how stupid and dangerous it is that decisions are being made by people who will pay no price for being wrong. This board seems to be wrong a lot!

  • Lds

    What is wrong with a free study?? This one is about possible SAVING lives and it is FREE!!! The township has in the past PAID money for studies then not followed the recommendations. As far as the firefighters now wanting to run medical calls…..I can’t believe these men and women that put THEIR LIVES on the line would turn down a chance to SAFE a life!!

    • Jason Spitler

      “What is wrong with a free study?? This one is about possible SAVING lives and it is FREE!!! The township has in the past PAID money for studies then not followed the recommendations. As far as the firefighters now wanting to run medical calls…..I can’t believe these men and women that put THEIR LIVES on the line would turn down a chance to SAFE a life!!”

      Believe that they won’t save a life if given the chance. There has been documented instances when Niles City First Responders assisted in the Township, because Niles Township Fire refused!

  • NT Res

    This decision has nothing to do with the betterment of the community and everything to do with silly, petty drama between city and township officials. This is a non-issue as they already have the municipal support they need to pursue the grant. However, the fact that they chose to not support this based on the fact that they feel “left out” just goes to show that this is about ego. What. A. Joke.

  • Janet Kuhn

    A study, designed with oversight and input by each of the municipalities and departments could be insightful. A study, designed by the two players who are in most need of additional funding, perhaps not. It seems to me that it may be a case of the two organizations looking for ways to supplement their operations at the expense of the taxpayers of other municipalities. If such a study is to be of a benefit, then let’s examine the underlying assumptions, goals and principles before moving forward and certainly before accepting any conclusions such a study might make.

  • Sam Taylor

    I live out in California, We have Real Emergencies out Here.
    The crosstraining is Essential for Saving Lives in our troubled times.
    it has saved countless lives, and a greater working relationships between Our various first responding agencies in the field.
    at first there was minor Union Oppopsition, but the Unions wouldn’t have it any other way, now they see how many lives it has saved
    Sam Taylor

  • Sam Taylor

    Here In California, all Cadets in Firefighting, and law Enforcement go through Extensive Cross Training, that is
    what it’s called, So in a Major Trauma incident, they can
    fully Work together, this is actual practise, not just a Class built around learning the “Buzz” words each side uses in an Emergency, but kneel Down and work together
    Sam Taylor

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