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November 20, 2019

10/22/2019 7:30:00 AM
St. Germain approves $25K for purchase of ambulance power-lift cot
But $25K more must come from donations
Fred Williston
Special to the Lakeland Times

On a 4-1 vote, the St. Germain Town Board last week approved a $25,000 contribution toward the purchase of a power-lift cot for the town's ambulance service, which has been operating for a little more than a year.

The town's donation comes from room tax, which is collected from out-of-towners who rent lodgings in St. Germain.

That contribution represents only half the cost of the new cot, though, and the rest must come from private donations and/or grants.

"Marion, how much did you collect so far?" supervisor Brian Cooper asked town treasurer Marion Janssen, who is a medical first-responder and has been spearheading the effort to raise the rest of the money. "Have you been doing good?"

"No, I have a long way to go," Janssen responded. "But some folks have helped out."

She cited contributions from Marshfield Clinic, Peoples State Bank, and the town's Prime-Timers organization. "And it was very nice of them," Janssen said." But it hasn't been as productive as I'd hoped. But I'm still going to keep looking for that money. It's very important."

Janssen said her request for the funding "is selfish."

"I don't want to see anyone in our fire department family getting hurt," Janssen told the board. "If the power cot can be purchased and will prevent an injury, then that person will be at the next scene, helping to relieve the next person's pain and helping to save a life ... we have to take care of our own in this town, and that's what this cot is for."

At an August board meeting, fire chief Tim Gebhardt assured supervisors Janssen's motives are altruistic - not selfish.

"We had a patient recently who was north of 500 pounds," he said. "It was a very trying situation ... the cot can lift 750 pounds."

Former St. Germain fire chief and current town supervisor Tim Clark expressed some concerns raised by his constituents.

"The people of this town associate the (St. Germain Firefighters') Association as the fire department," he said. "And people see that the association bought air conditioning. The association bought that trailer. The association bought a cooler, and all these people who are donating (to the association) think it's all going towards fire and rescue."

"And the association is asking for the money to buy this cot," Clark said. "The fish fry is run by who? The association, and people think they're giving that money to the fire department. So the people are saying 'Well, the fire department bought air conditioning. Maybe they should have put that money towards the cot. The fire department bought that trailer that they use for 15 days. Maybe that money should have gone towards the cot.'"

"If this is a problem of public perception or public understanding, why don't we work on that?" supervisor Ted Ritter asked.

"Through the proper channels of communication, we can fix that," town chairman Tom Christensen said. "So people understand better what the function of the association compared to the fire department is ... and that is a valid topic for future conversations, but not for what we're doing here tonight."

When Christensen called for a vote, the contribution was approved with Clark casting the lone dissenting vote.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the cot campaign can do so through Janssen. Her contact information is available on the town's website.

Other news

In other business, the board:

• Formalized its funding for a series of public works projects by adopting a resolution to take a loan from M-Bank. The loan carries a principal amount of $627,200 at an interest rate of 2.49 percent. It is a three-year note.

• Approved a budget of no more than $12,000 to replace 20 of the town's lighted Christmas decorations. Janssen estimated the decorations in use now are 10 to 12 years old.

There's $1,500 left for decorations in the room tax budget, so the remaining $10,500 would come from the town's community development fund.

The board voted unanimously on the expenditure and assigned selection of the decorations to Cooper and supervisor Jim Swenson.

Cooper joked it will most likely be his wife, not he, who makes the final decision.

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