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City might cancel ambulance service to Turner County

By Garrett Ammesmaki

The Lennox City Commission kicked off this week’s meeting with a declaration to make Sunday, June 26th, Reverend Hugh Brewer Day. The move is to honor his 28 years as pastor of First English Lutheran Church, as well as his contributions to the Lennox community.

Mayor Stacy DuChene referred to Brewer as playing a “critical role” in service and development of the Lennox community, as well as being “a respected community leader.”

City Commissioners approved the agenda and briefly touched on the Good Samaritan Society property, but most of the June 13 meeting was spent discussing private parties at the public pool and the possibility of ending ambulance services to Turner County.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that Turner County and Chancellor have little to no interest in receiving Emergency Medical Services from the Lennox Ambulance Service,” said City Administrator Nathan Vander Plaats in a June 7 memo to the mayor.

The Lennox ambulance service has been asked to run standby for the Turner County Fair, but there has already been an issue with Lennox not receiving pay from Turner County for current service, Vander Plaats said during the meeting.

“It’s almost a slap in the face to our people that they’d want us to come out and sit at their fair, but they won’t pay us for the services we already provide,” Commissioner Chad Reilly said.

Vander Plaats said they had an informational meeting in Chancellor on June 1 to discuss the issue, but were met with “limited attendance.”

As of now, Lennox ambulance services three miles into Turner County, Vander Plaats said. Letters would be drafted and sent to residents of Turner County that would be left without ambulance service if the City Commission goes through with the cancellation of coverage for the area.

“My intent at this point is to give our friends in Turner County until July 10,” Vander Plaats said in the memo. “If [a petition to add an ambulance district to the November ballot in Turner County] is not received, my recommendation is to move forward with an ambulance district that only serves Lincoln County.”

No decision was formalized at tonight’s commission meeting, but Reilly did ask if Lennox had an “ethical obligation or moral obligation,” to continue servicing the area.

“I don’t believe we do,” Vander Plaats said.

Commissioner Britney Mower brought up issues with a lack of notice of private parties at the public swimming pool being unfair for people who have bought family passes for the summer.

“There have been a lot of private parties at the pool, which I think is wonderful,” she said, but “since we don’t know when the parties are going to happen, I think that’s maybe a disservice to our citizens who pay for a family pass.”

They discussed possibly limiting hours for private parties and requiring notices, but no motion was passed and no decision was made during the meeting.

It currently costs $75 per hour for a private party at the pool, Vander Plaats said.

Vander Plaats has spoken with the director of the Good Samaritan Society.

According to Vander Plaats, the Good Samaritan Society is mostly focused on moving residents out of the building and they did not have much information on if the city can purchase the building.

They are “very likely,” to use “restrictive language” in any future purchase agreement, Vander Plaats said. That restrictive language primarily being on how the property can be used for a specific amount of time after it is purchased.

Executive session was called after brief conversation regarding a counter offer from Lynn Eining on their property located at 27980 SD Hwy 17. The city wishes to purchase the property. Eining’s newest counter offer asked for $533,566.44, or .90 cents per square foot for the roughly 13.61 acres and all current structures.

They approved the agenda, which included hirings and promotions of city employees, a park board resignation, named the owner of 1001 W. 1st Ave. a habitual violator of chapter 3.0104.

“The property at 1001 W 1st Avenue in Lennox has been known as a neglected property for some time,” Vander Plaats wrote in a memo to the Mayor and City Council. “In addition to other code violations, the City has notified the owner in each of the preceding three years – and I believe long before that – of violations of the City’s vegetation nuisance ordinances, which require grass and weeds to be cut to less than 8” in height.”

“Chapter 3.0104(E) allows the City to name any owner or person in control of any land that has previously received a notice to abate a nuisance relating to weeds within the preceding 24 months as a habitual violator of that ordinance,” the memo continued, “and as a result to let a contract for mowing the property as needed up to a weekly basis for the following 24 months. The full costs of that service are assessed against the property, along with a $200 administrative fee.”

The agenda also included accepting Whitney Seykora’s resignation from the Lennox Park Board, as well as the hiring and promoting of various city employees.

Haley Johnke and Clara Stucky were promoted to head lifeguards at $13.68 per hour each; Ashely Bondesson and Will Hoppe were hired as lifeguards at $12.63 per hour each, and Sawyer Bowers was hired as seasonal public works laborer at $12.63 per hour. Chuck Drury was hired at $21 an hour as street maintenance specialist and will be “graduated” to $22 per hour upon receipt of their commercial drivers license.


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