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Steeleville seeking first responder funding help

By Pete Spitler
updated: 9/8/2017 2:01 PM

Even with a light agenda, Friday's meeting of the Randolph County commissioners wasn't devoid of things to discuss.
During public comment, the commissioners heard from Steeleville Mayor Bob Sutton, who asked the board to consider helping the village with funding for its first responder program.
Sutton noted that Steeleville first responders service the entire Steeleville 911 area, with cost for equipment and training being absorbed by the village. Also, the first responder program does not receive a portion of the fire subscription fee for rural residents who are served by the program.
Recently, the Village of Percy agreed to contribute $300 per month toward the cost of Steeleville first responder services within Percy village limits.
"In the past year, we ran a total of 324 first responder calls," Sutton said. "Of those calls, 26 percent were to residents in Randolph County who do not reside in either Steeleville or Percy.
"Our anticipated calls for 2017 are expected to be close to 400."
Sutton said all the village's firefighters and police officers are trained as first responders and have saved at least three lives in the past year.
"Police officers are ready at a moment's notice," Sutton said. "It still takes firefighters time to get to the fire department, get the equipment and go."
Commissioner Marc Kiehna commended Sutton and former Steeleville Fire Chief (and now county coroner) Carlos Barbour for "seeing a need that's there."
"Through the talents of your individuals, you were able to do something about it," he said.
Kiehna asked Sutton for his definition of "first responder," and was told it means someone who is state-certified and has had at least 80 hours of training.
"They have a state ID number that goes on the call forms," Barbour said.
Barbour noted that Chester and Sparta have the luxury of having ambulances staged in town. Board Chairman Ronnie White noted the county's 10-year contract with MedStar Ambulance expires in November and the county is faced with the possibility it can no longer afford to subsidize ambulance service.
The board took no action on Sutton's request.
"We promise we can consider what we can do within our budget constraints," Kiehna said.
In other news, Randolph County engineer Mike Riebeling told the county commissioners that a quarter-mile portion of County Line Road will be closed for a week starting Monday.
The portion is north of Blackstump Road and the closure is necessary so the highway department can replace a box culvert.
Knight Hawk Coal is aware of the closure and has made arrangements.
• The Randolph County Care Center had 68 residents.
• General assistance for the period was $600.
• Randolph County Health Department Interim Administrator Stephanie Martin informed the commissioners she attended the Illinois Environmental Health Association annual conference and was told the state is required to be federal FDA compliant by June of next year.
"This will be a significant process to change the code in Randolph County," she said.
Martin also noted that she has set up monthly training sessions for RCHD staff, with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) training scheduled for October.