STOCKTON SPRINGS — The Select Board met with a member of the Prospect Select Board to go over a proposed agreement between the two towns for ambulance service, approved the purchase of a new, self-loading stretcher for the town’s EMS service, discussed nominees for the annual Spirit of America award and conducted other business Jan. 20.

Diane Terry represented the Prospect Select Board in the conversation about the ambulance service contract, planned to run for two years starting after Stockton’s town meeting in June. Under the proposed contract, Prospect would pay $38,575 annually, and would receive 24-hour ambulance service, not including livery or non-emergency service. The contract must be approved by residents of both towns at their respective town meetings. Terry said Prospect’s town meeting was tentatively scheduled for April 2.

During the conversation, Town Manager Mac Smith said he felt the spirit of the longstanding cooperation between the two towns was present in the proposed two-year contract, which offers stability to Prospect and protects it from the sudden loss of ambulance service should Stockton decide to close its Ambulance Department. He said going further to establish a joint department, as the Prospect board had previously requested, would add unnecessary complications, and board member Darren Shute agreed. Terry replied that after further consideration, she was also beginning to think sticking with a renewable two-year contract was the best idea.

Terry asked Smith to send her town a letter summarizing his thoughts on the merits of a two-year contract versus establishing a joint department, for the benefit of the two Select Board members who were unable to make the meeting, which he said he would do. The Prospect board’s next meeting is Jan. 27.

The board also discussed and approved spending $41,490 for a self-loading stretcher, which Ambulance Chief Amy Drinkwater explained would allow her department to respond to calls with a smaller crew. Drinkwater noted that the equipment comes with a one-year warrantee, so the board decided to wait to buy an extended warrantee, which the chief did recommend. The money for the stretcher, and the warrantee, if it is purchased later, will come from the $170,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding the town has been allocated, the first half of which has been received.

Some part of the stretcher’s cost may be offset by trading in an older stretcher being used on the second ambulance. That second truck, Drinkwater said, will be back in service by the end of January.

In other business, Drinkwater passed out a draft letter to several neighboring towns informing them of the respective number of emergency calls Stockton answered there in 2021. The letter notes that these are not mutual aid calls, where a town responds but needs help from one or more neighboring towns. Rather, these are calls where a town lacked the staff to respond, so Stockton responded in place of the town where the emergency occurred.

“This is causing increased stress on our staffed ambulance department, as well as imposing a financial burden on the taxpayers of Stockton Springs,” the letter says.

Along with the list of calls, the letter says that starting July 1 of this year, Stockton will begin charging other towns $300 per emergency call it responds to. It specifies that mutual aid calls will continue to be answered at no charge.

The board approved the letter and agreed to sign the final draft before it is sent.

This year’s Spirit of America award was also discussed, with several possible candidates presented. The board decided to postpone taking action until the next meeting, scheduled for 8 a.m. Feb. 3 at the Town Office.

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