County weighs EMS plan

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Allen County commissioners soon will decide how they want to house ambulances and crews stationed in Iola.
Rick Zingre, a Fort Scott architect who specializes in design of public safety buildings, will give commissioners preliminary proposals about building a free-standing ambulance building next to the old Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative building, 410 N. State St., and also what it might cost to remodel part of that building for ambulance crew living quarters. He met with commissioners Tuesday morning.
Commissioners had talked about both and had given indication of late that they would construct a separate building for ambulances and crews.
Zingre, without the benefit of much examination, suggested that it might be more economical to remodel part of the building for a living area and construct an attached building to house ambulances. He will flesh out those options and give commissioners ideas on how either approach might play out structure-wise.
In cursory discussions, Zingre said a metal building’s structure was relatively ageless and that its finish should be next to maintenance-free for 20 years, as should the roof, depending on application. He also said that a more conventional building likely wouldn’t be much more expensive.
No prices were quoted, but Zingre did estimate that construction could take four to six months for the most basic of structures and up to a year with a more comprehensive approach.
Ambulance will remain in a building rented from Larry Macha at the east edge of Iola until new quarters are ready. The county pays $2,000 a month rent and is responsible for utilities.
Commissioner Gary McIntosh said Tuesday afternoon that he was pleased Zingre was on board, at least as a preliminary consultant.
“We all looked at the site after the meeting and he mentioned several things I hadn’t thought of,” McIntosh said, including necessity of core samples ahead of construction to ensure that sub-soil was stable and not stratified by fill dirt.
Zingre is no stranger to the county. He designed the building originally planned for the Gas site, before it was shelved when Commissioners McIntosh and Rob Francis took office in January.
That structure, which could have accommodated 911 dispatch and had room for an emergency operations center, had an estimated cost of $695,000, with $335,000 coming from a Community Development Block Grant that was turned back when commissioners quit the Gas site.
Commissioners spent $185,000 of general fund money to buy the 410 N. State building and have authorized issuance of up to $400,000 in general obligation bonds. They have said they’d prefer to have the bond money remain in abeyance, and meet costs with money now in county coffers.