On Monday, the McDowell County Commissioners approved the purchase of the old credit union building on U.S. 221 North so it can become a new base for Emergency Medical Services.
During the regular meeting, the commissioners agreed to buy the 2,209-square-foot building and three-quarters of an acre of land at 2945 U.S. 221 North for $360,000. This sale price is $77,560 less than the 2019 tax card value, which is $437,560, according to Emergency Services Director William Kehler.
The plan is to close the current EMS station in downtown Marion, which has been in use for more than 40 years. McDowell EMS will transition to a four-base system with locations in the north, south, east and west ends of the county. There are already bases in Old Fort and Nebo.
Kehler said he and his staff looked at numerous properties in the vicinity of U.S. 221 Business, U.S. 70 West and the Hankins Road corridor. They carefully considered each site considering response times, operational feasibility, cost, as well as safety. Starting in 2016, they closely looked at the old credit union building just north of the Hankins Road entrance.
Architect Chuck Hamrick also evaluated this structure and determined that a truck bay could be added to the rear of the building along with other interior modifications, which would allow it to serve as an EMS station.
“We have since revisited this station and found that this existing building meets all requirements for an EMS operation and is the ideal site for our north station,” said Kehler to the board. “It is centrally located to maintain an adequate response time back into the downtown area, while improving response times on an average of five minutes for the citizens in Woodlawn, P.G., North Cove, Hankins and the north side of Lake James.”
The purchase of this structure is both cost effective and will serve the needs of McDowell EMS for decades to come, according to county officials.
“This isn’t a spur of the moment decision,” said Kehler. “We’ve looked at this facility for years.”
Both Kehler and County Manager Ashley Wooten said it would take around 15 to 18 months before EMS could move into the credit union building.
As for the base on the southern end, Kehler said it will be constructed on county-owned property on Barnes Road.
The commissioners heard updates about building projects on Monday:
• First, the county is planning to make improvements to the old Club Fitness building so it can become the new home of the Board of Elections. Drawings of the building have been sent out to contractors with quotes scheduled to come back on Friday, April 19.
• Secondly, county officials will schedule a thorough cleaning of the former Foothills Pilot Plant building now that it is warmer. Once that building is cleaned, the equipment will be inventoried and disposed of through a board-authorized process.
• Lastly, county officials have met with the probation/parole officials within the last week about the office building on State Street. This office will have 20 staff members by the end of the calendar year but current building on State Street has space for about 16.