Cartwright wants to address survival of rural EMS

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

District 3 Commissioner Charlie Cartwright on Jan. 17 told his county board colleagues that his focus, as he represents the board’s interest in regard to rural ambulance service in Osage County, will be specifically on “the survival of rural EMS.”

District 2 Commissioner Steve Talburt and District 1 Commissioner Everett Piper formally designated Cartwright on Jan. 17 as the board’s representative in regard to the establishment of a citizen advisory committee to create guidelines for rural Emergency Medical Service agencies. There had been discussion in the board’s Jan. 9 meeting of asking Cartwright to take on the task, and he had said that he would be honored to undertake it.

Cartwright clarified that he doesn’t want to get into the details of day-to-day operations for EMS organizations operating in Osage County, but would rather address the larger, long-term question of how EMS organizations can prosper in the county and make sure that the public’s need for medical care is met.

Cartwright received the board’s formal assignment regarding emergency medical service during a meeting Jan. 17 in which a representative of Miller EMS provided a data report regarding its work in the Barnsdall and Avant communities in December 2022. Nona Roach, of Avant, who had previously complained of problems with the effectiveness of Miller EMS, asked to be appointed to the citizen advisory group that Cartwright will be trying to assemble. She said it appeared that “the interest is not there from any of my city elected officials.”

Cartwright did not immediately offer committee appointments to Roach or anyone else, but Roach did have an opportunity to talk Jan. 17 with a representative of Miller EMS who attended the commissioners’ meeting. Cartwright did, however, indicate he thought it would be good for city managers, mayors and municipal clerks to be represented on the advisory committee.

The county board’s agenda for its Jan. 23 meeting, which was distributed Jan. 20, indicated that Miller EMS is apparently looking to cease providing ambulance care in the Barnsdall area. The agenda included an item calling for the county commissioners to acknowledge a termination letter received from Miller.

The Board of County Commissioners also voted Jan.17 to designate District 1 Commissioner Everett Piper to be the board’s representative regarding the construction of a new administrative annex building. The project, which is still in the planning stage, has been the source of conflict in recent months among officials. Piper, who took office Jan. 3, has had an opportunity to observe that conflict but is new to trying to deal administratively with moving the project forward.

Cartwright put Piper’s name forward as the board’s representative on the administrative annex project, noting that Piper has previous experience with facility construction projects. Piper is as former university president.

Piper said he is not opposed to the annex project, but he thinks it will have to be completed within budget.

The previous county board earmarked more than $14 million for the new building and for improvements to the existing courthouse. Mike Owen, of D2C (the county’s owner-representation firm for the annex project), has said there is not yet a formal budget for the annex and it will eventually be up to county commissioners to decide just what amount of money they will be willing to spend on it.

Following an executive session Jan. 17 regarding personnel issues, the commissioners decided to eliminate the position of assistant to the commissioners and move Kandy Jump – who has held that position -- to the District 3 staff. The office that Jump has used at the courthouse in Pawhuska is to be placed under the control of County Clerk Robin Slack.

Piper also said he would be placing under the authority of his administrative assistant, Kathryn Chambers, a process of making improvements in janitorial services for the county’s buildings.

Talburt explained the commissioners would make two part-time positions at the county fairgrounds full-time positions. He said the positions would be advertised.