County EMS also working without deputy director

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Still in search of an executive director to replace the departed E.J. Claflin, Putnam County EMS is about to be without a deputy director.

Deputy Director Joe Carnagua tendered his resignation to the Putnam County Commissioners last week, effective Feb. 29.

Since Claflin’s departure for a job in North Carolina in January, Carnagua had been in charge of the day-to-day operations of the county-owned ambulance service, with Claflin continuing to consult remotely.

However, Canagua walked out on Tuesday, leaving Commissioner President Rick Woodall, -- with no EMS training -- effectively in charge.

In the meantime, leaders have been chosen on each shift to help Woodall.

The executive director search is also proceeding

By Friday, Woodall hopes to have the field narrowed to three candidates and two alternates.

He hopes that a round of interviews with the commissioners will follow next week.

The idea is to have a new executive director in place by the second or third week of March. That person, in turn, can hire a deputy director.

It’s all made for a tricky first two months for the newly-established Putnam County EMS.

Claflin had been the executive director of Putnam County Operation Life since 2015 and for the last year oversaw the transition from the non-profit OL to the county-owned Putnam County EMS on Jan. 1.

Woodall gave a number of these updates to the Putnam County Council last week, during a meeting in which the council also approved several transfers to the EMS budget to help it through the first year of operation.

These included $175,000 from the Economic Development Income Tax warchest, as well as $300,000 from the hazardous waste fund.

The idea is, though, that EMS will grow less reliant on other county funds as billing and federal reimbursement begin rolling in.

One advantage the county has over a small non-profit is a higher rate of federal reimbursement and a greater ability to collect payments.

In other business:

• The council approved changing a job share in the adult probation department to simply two part-time positions.

• Judge Denny Bridges informed the council that a change is going to have to come in terms of salaries for public defenders.

In Putnam County, public defenders make $35,000 with no benefits and no office staff to help them.

Bridges pointed out that in Vermillion County, which is tiny, they make $66,000 and have insurance.

The courts are currently working on a rather small staff of defenders and have no margin for error.

“The problem is, we don’t have any other lawyers,” Bridges said. “The people we’ve hired are the people who are interested.”

In fact, the only Putnam County attorney is Trudy Selvia.

“I don’t like hiring outside the county, but they just aren’t interested,” Bridges said.

While nothing is going to be done at this time, Bridges and the council members agreed the issue will have to be seriously discussed when the 2020 budget hearings roll around.

• The council approved a $9,000 transfer in the planning and zoning budget from mileage to fuel.

The change is necessary because County Planner Don Hatfield is now using a county-owned vehicle rather than his own.

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  • *

    Director resigns... under the auspices of taking a job in North Carolina.(Nothing against him, of course.)

    Deputy director gives his notice, only to simply walk away a week later. (Nothing against this guy, either.)

    $475,000 is shuffled around to cover expenses that should have been previously budgeted and prepared for by the County.

    And this is the coverage we get?

    Does anyone else think that there is a story here that should be dug into?

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Feb 26, 2020, at 8:36 AM
  • Agree......maybe britt luke can get some answers for us. Strange the reporter just left the story so abruptly.

    -- Posted by Keepyaguessin on Wed, Feb 26, 2020, at 10:18 AM
  • The first question I have to dreadpirateroberts and Keepyaguessin how many meetings have you attended to know what is going on with EMS in Putnam Co. I tried to attend has many as I could because this was going to be a big move for the county. Operation Life was going to go out of business at midnight Dec. 31. So people saw what happened to other counties that used a private ambulance service.

    When they don't make money they walk away. Why directors left don't know don't care. Might be the chain of command is going to change.

    The money had to come from somewhere till the ambulance is up and running. So money was moved to make it happen.

    I have seen where people complain about what's going on till they call 911. Well as of right now you call 911 you get an ambulance as quick as possible. So you should be glad someone took on the job to keep an ambulance service going.

    If you have ideas to improve the service instead of armchair quarterbacking you should attend meetings and help.

    -- Posted by Togafarm on Wed, Feb 26, 2020, at 2:40 PM
  • Thank you Togafarm. Very nice post and much appreciated. Armchair quarterbacking has become quite popular on here lately and gets very frustrating at times.

    -- Posted by Nit on Wed, Feb 26, 2020, at 3:32 PM
  • Thank you Nit

    -- Posted by Togafarm on Wed, Feb 26, 2020, at 4:08 PM
  • *

    I am not being an armchair quarterback.

    I am asking questions and wondering (out loud) if there is more than what we are being told.

    And I am not complaining about the county taking over the service - ambulance service is a very important community asset, whether part of the local gov't EMS or a private company.

    The point is this transition was not something that came up unexpectedly...the transition was planned/discussed/expected for a very long time.

    So when two top executives leave, one rather abruptly, it makes me wonder.

    "Don't know, don't care" implies that you are okay simply accepting what you are told without question. That's fine. However, that is not how I operate.

    Having witnessed plenty of high management shake-ups and other re-organizations, one is not a big deal...but when #1 and #2 leave it is a big deal.

    And when, again what reads to be rather suddenly, the county has to raid two other funds for the operation of the ambulance service, it makes me wonder.

    Now, perhaps they had to wait until this particular meeting before they could legally move (or even budget) the money (DLGF is an onerous overseer at times).

    Or, perhaps they underestimated the budgetary needs and had a shortfall that had to be immediately rectified for some reason.

    The article doesn't explain the "why?", only the "what".

    Asking questions keeps politicians honest - and shame on you if you have a problem with that.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Feb 26, 2020, at 4:39 PM
  • No armchair quarterbacking here. Simply asking questions. I have attended many meetings. Simply put...if there are no answers given..people tend to ask more in depth questions. I do care why they each lef unlike you. Could be something deeper than we all realize

    -- Posted by Keepyaguessin on Thu, Feb 27, 2020, at 10:44 AM
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