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Flovilla could get ambulance site

— Butts County and City of Flovilla officials could begin negotiating soon on how to bring emergency medical services to the city fire station.

On Monday night, Flovilla City Council members voted to give Mayor Scott Chewning the authority to begin talks with Butts County officials to station an ambulance, and personnel, in the city fire station. Any agreement would have to be approved by the Board of Commissioners and the Flovilla City Council.

The discussion of an ambulance being stationed in Flovilla is part of the county’s long-range plan for funding under the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that passed in November 2011, according to a letter from Commission Chairman Roger McDaniel to Chewning.

Although the sales tax money could not be used to pay personnel, it can be used for equipment and vehicle purchases.

“The Commissioner’s Office plans to include in long term budgeting an additional ambulance and the salary/benefits necessary to operate a 24/7 emergency service on site,” McDaniel wrote in the Feb. 1 letter.

Flovilla’s fire department currently does not provide ambulance service.

Chewning and other council members were adamant Monday night, however, about maintaining control of the Flovilla Fire Department, which currently has only one firefighter on staff but a roster of 14 volunteers, according to Chief Glenn Williams, who himself is a volunteer.

“In no way, shape or form will I ever go along with Butts County taking over our fire department,” Chewning told the council Monday.

Interim County Administrator J. Michael Brewer said Tuesday that officials have been looking for some time for a way to increase emergency medical services to the Flovilla area. The closest ambulances to the city are currently stationed at Stark and in the City of Jackson.

The next closest would likely come from Colwell Road near Interstate 75.

Brewer said the county has considered the possibility of one day building a fire station in the southeastern part of the county, but an agreement with Flovilla on ambulance presence and personnel could save money.

Brewer said it was not yet known whether bringing an ambulance to Flovilla would represent a fifth county ambulance, or moving one of the existing four. He said the prospect is also contingent on available funding in the future.

“Right now, all we can do is plan and hope the economy comes along,” he said.

Williams, the Flovilla fire chief, said he would not oppose a county ambulance stationed at the Flovilla Fire Department, but he would much rather see the department staffed with more firefighters, to provide full-time fire coverage. “I would love to have two more people in Flovilla, and I would support that in a heartbeat,” he said. “I’m not saying not get an ambulance. Just not right now.”