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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

IU Lifeline Ambulance Four Year Contract to be funded by ARPA funds

LAWRENCE COUNTY - FEBRUARY 28, 2023 - Lawrence County Commissioner President Dustin Gabhart gave the Lawrence County Council members a glimpse of how some of the ARPA funding will be allocated.

There still remains questions on other portions of ARPA funding with Baker/Tilley serving as an advisor on how to spend the federal grant program.

" Nothing is concrete where some of these funds will be allocated," said Lawrence County Commissioner Dustin Gabhart.

What was clear this evening is the Lawrence County Commissioners will completely fund the four-year ambulance contract of IU Lifeline Ambulance Service using $1.5 Million in ARPA funds.

The county agreed to pay $300,000 from April 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023 with an annual stipend of $400,000 in years 2024, 2025, 2026 with the payments made biannually on June 30th and December 31 of each contracted year.

Photo: Lawrence County Fire Territory EMS 11

There was no mention of allocating any funds to the Lawrence County Fire Territory Ambulance service during tonight's meeting. The Lawrence County Fire Territory started in January of this year and is already making emergency runs throughout the county when IU Lifeline Ambulances are unavailable.

The primary response area for the Lawrence County Fire Territory ambulance is Shawswick and Guthrie Township.

Video: Lawrence County Commissioner Dustin Gabhart explains how some of the $8.8 Million in ARPA funds will be allocated

The Lawrence County Commissioners and Lawrence County Council agreed to pay $1.1 Million in APRA funds to expand broadband in the Williams area. Daviess/Martin Telephone was awarded that contract with the approval of the six county council members tonight. Lawrence County Council member Julie Hewston was not at tonight's meeting.

The expansion will incorporate five anchor, institutions, 255 residential locations, 168 businesses, and 22 agricultural type enterprises according to the contract obtained by the Lawrence County Zephyr.

In the contract it is acknowledged that the number of those served may increase or decrease based on actual customer locations. The project is designed to provide 100 Mbps download speed and 20 Mbps upload speed through a wireline connection.

The startup costs and design, engineering work will cost a total of $100,000 for a partial startup.

Following the start up the county will pay $200,000 in four installments as the project is completed in phases. The project is to last no later than December 31, 2026.

The Lawrence County Commissioners has budgeted over $4.4 Million in Broadband projects. using the American Rescue Plan Funds.

However, the local volunteer fire departments will not be given a blank check from the Lawrence County Commissioners. The local volunteer fire departments would have to submit plans for the use of their funding. The funds will then be first distributed to the local township trustees first then disbursed to the designated volunteer fire departments.

The volunteer fire departments did not receive any COVID relief funds from the Lawrence County Commissioners during the COVID pandemic, however during a meeting last year the commissioners agreed that they would support the volunteer fire departments in some way with the ARPA funds.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department was given money to purchase three police cars with COVID relief funds, the volunteer fire service request for funding was denied by Lawrence County Emergency Management director Valarie Luchuaer who oversaw the COVID relief disbursal.

Commissioner Dustin Gabhart said the money could not be used for any water or sewer projects. The South Lawrence Water Corporation is having to construct a water filtration system on Dixie Highway and none of the ARPA funds could be used for that purpose.

The Lawrence County Council members asked whether the money could be used for the Lawrence County Jail.

Lawrence County Sheriff Greg telling both the commissioners and county council today that the current jail is in need of several improvements to make it safe. A recent justice study called for the construction of a new jail facility in the amount of $58 Million price tag.

However, President Gabhart told the council members that only a small part of the money could be used towards the jail on specific areas, but the regulations on those funds restrict some of the funds going to correctional facilities.

There was only public hearing on the proposed ARPA funding, and the Lawrence Commissioners did not elaborate on how they determined on how or what agencies will receive the funds.

Here is a brief look of where the APRA funds will be distributed:

  • Broadband Connections - $4,400,000

  • Professional fees - $215,516

  • Volunteer Fire Departments and Fairground assistance - $950,000

  • Ambulance Services - $1,500,000

  • Capital Improvements - $1,000,000

  • Airport Runway Improvements - $184,075

  • County Financial Software setup - $213,000

  • Equipment - $350,000

Lawrence County Council members approved the proposed budget.


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