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Colby reviews ambulance purchase, water main issue

The Colby city council approved both the purchase of a new ambulance for the Central Fire & EMS department as well as to move forward with plans to replace the water main along Highway 13 at their November meeting last Tuesday.

The new ambulance will replace one of their older service vehicles and has been something that Central Fire & EMS has been planning for. The quote that the Central Fire & EMS board approved and then sent along to the member municipalities listed the overall price as $249,754.00.

Part of this is to be paid for by the Wisconsin EMS Flex Grant. This grant was part of Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, stating it to be used to assist EMS services that have seen an uptick in both operating costs and demand of their services. $12 million from the American Rescue Plan Act—Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds were set aside for this grant. Central Fire & EMS was allowed $102,335.00 after applying for the grant, which could be spent on a variety of different things, including training, equipment and retention or recruitment of staff. Given that the department was looking to purchase a new ambulance, it seemed most pertinent to allocate the funds towards that venture.

“With the $102,355 grant, we would be spending about $143,000, which we have in our accounts to pay for this,” said council member Nancy O’Brien, who is Colby’s representative on the Central Fire & EMS department’s board.

This ambulance would be the same as the newest ambulance that Central Fire & EMS has and would replace the oldest vehicle that the department currently uses, which is housed at the Colby branch.

This was a decision that needed to be moved along quickly, as there was a possibility of increased cost and wait time if it took too long to get approval.

“The thing is, even if we tell them we want this, we won’t get this one until 2024,” O’Brien explained. “And if we don’t and we have to order one, it’ll be probably $50,000 more and we won’t get it until 2025.”

“It’s about the same amount as the newest one we purchased,” she added. “That’s why we wanted to jump on it. It’s the same ambulance and everyone’s familiar with it.”

Water Main Replacement

The board also approved engineering costs not to exceed $86,200 to create plans to replace a stretch of the water main along Highway 13.

The need for this project was brought up by the department of public works head Harland Higley Jr. at the October meeting and the matter was further discussed during the October public works committee meeting. There have been several leaks along this water main over the last few months and the need for repairs has become apparent.

The department received an estimation from Ayres that stated that the entire project would cost about $680,000.

The hope is that this would involve directional drilling to replace 2,600 feet of existing main along Highway 13 between Spence Street and Monroe Street. This directional boring method would result in minimal disturbance to the surface.

The approved $86,200 would cover initial engineering costs necessary to draft plans for the project.

Other Business

n The Security Health Plan for government employees was also approved at last Tuesday’s meeting. While there was an increase in price from last year’s plan, one of about two percent, it had remained the same over the three years prior.

n The city hall office will be closed the day after Thanksgiving, November 25, as well as the Monday following Christmas, December 26. It will also be closed in the afternoon on the Friday before Christmas Eve, December 23.