VIENNA — Maries-Osage Ambulance District (MOAD) Administrator Carla Butler took some time at the Aug. 23 board meeting to discuss an ongoing disagreement between the organization and Osage …
VIENNA — Maries-Osage Ambulance District (MOAD) Administrator Carla Butler took some time at the Aug. 23 board meeting to discuss an ongoing disagreement between the organization and Osage Ambulance District (OAD).
Butler said she wanted to address an article that appeared in the Aug. 23 edition of the Unterrified Democrat titled “OAD to try annexation question again in November election.” The article detailed a meeting earlier this month between OAD Administrator Josh Krull and the Osage County Commission.
The discussion at the commission meeting concerned the annexation of an area previously covered by the volunteer service COMM-Unity Ambulance. Earlier this year, COMM-Unity Ambulance ceased operation and left its service area unrepresented by an ambulance district.
The coverage area included some of both Maries and Osage counties. At a June Osage County Commission meeting, several MOAD board members attended to tell the commissioners that they were not happy with the ballot language for OAD annexation that had changed the boundary line from the previously agreed Volmert Lane. The MOAD board members also wanted the vote delayed so they could run its annexation vote simultaneously.
In the Aug. 8 election, the measure failed to pass with 37 votes “no” on the annexation and 22 votes “yes.” OAD plans to try another annexation vote in the November election.
At the MOAD board meeting, Butler said she appreciated that the Osage County commissioners tried to help the two districts resolve the issue. She also disputed Krull’s comment in the article that the two districts’ mutual attorney reached out to MOAD to participate in the annexation process and MOAD declined. She read text messages she had exchanged with Krull earlier this year. Butler said the first conversation happened on Feb. 2.
Butler asked Krull if he had heard anything from DJ Schroeder, COMM-Unity Ambulance’s board president at the time. Krull asked about what. Butler said anything about the COMM-Unity Ambulance service dissolving. She said she would like to schedule a phone conference with herself, Krull and Schroeder to get everyone on the same page. She asked if Krull would be interested and said she had told the MOAD board that Krull was willing to have the paperwork completed to have the agreement of which district would cover. Butler also mentioned Volmert Lane as the dividing line.
Krull said that sounded good. He also said there might be a cost for having plans drafted. He said he would check with a surveyor to get the wording right. He said they were on the same page and he would let Butler know about the cost. Butler said MOAD did not expect OAD to pay the whole cost for plans. The two districts could split the cost or MOAD could have its own plans made if necessary. They met with Schroeder the next day.
Butler said she and Krull exchanged messages about COMM-Unity Ambulance again on March 29. Krull asked if MOAD had a different plan for the COMM-Unity Ambulance area. He had been working on getting legal descriptions of the area, but he had heard MOAD was maybe going for an annexation vote.
Butler told Krull that MOAD planned to stick to the boundary at Volmert Lane as previously discussed. She was unsure what he meant by “going for a vote.”
Krull asked if MOAD planned to go the route of a petition by voters in the area of annexation and then get it on the ballot. Butler said that because the COMM-Unity area is not tax-based, it is up to the voters of that area to decide if they favor annexation. She said in the future MOAD would encourage signatures for a petition and annexation vote.
Krull asked if MOAD planned to have a vote during the April election, the August election or one further in the future because he would like to coordinate the annexation processes for both districts. Butler said it would be later than the August election, but she was not yet sure when. She agreed that coordinating would benefit both districts.
“That’s the last I heard from the man,” Butler told the MOAD board after she finished reading the March 29 messages. “Is that not us trying to work with them?”
Butler said the last she knew, she was waiting to hear back about the cost of the legal description. The next time she heard about it was when OAD presented the petition to the Osage County Commission that included part of what MOAD expected to annex as part of the agreement between the districts. She said she contacted the district’s attorney, who removed himself from the situation to avoid a conflict of interest because he also represents OAD.
“It’s in the newspaper that our attorney reached out to us and that we refused to work with them,” Butler said.
“Nobody refused to work with them to my knowledge,” Board President Don Lanning said.
Butler said the attorney did reach out, but at that time, the districts agreed on the annexation boundaries.
“Our attorney actually advised, like the (Osage County) commissioners are advising, to get a meeting together,” Butler said. “I told our attorney ‘Yes, let’s get a meeting together.’ Let’s work this out. There’s no sense in this bickering back and forth.”
Butler said the attorney reached out to OAD and OAD declined to meet with MOAD.
According to the Aug. 23 article, Krull told the Osage County Commission that “the public charade that happened here was unprofessional and unjustified.”
“We have just as professional employees as any district around,” Butler said at the MOAD board meeting. “We’re no better than them. They’re no better than us. Do we rely on (OAD’s) paramedics to rendezvous with us at times? Absolutely. They have phenomenal, phenomenal employees that work over there. But I’m not going to stand here and let somebody try to down our district.”
“There’s no reason for them to,” Lanning said.
Butler said if MOAD had any formal plans to run an election this year, she would have let OAD know.
Butler said a map posted to social media that shows a proposed route for MOAD ambulances to get to Meta is inaccurate.
“We just want the agreed upon-area,” Butler said. “If (OAD) has a petition to annex some of it and it gets voted on, so be it. We’ll go on. The frustrating thing is how it went about. I thought we were on the same page.”
Board member Laura Stratman suggested that the MOAD board attend a future OAD board meeting to talk with them.
“I think us going to one of their board meetings is probably a really good idea,” Butler said.
Laura Stratman said if the board goes to a meeting it should have as many members as possible attend.
Butler and members of the MOAD board agreed that if there was a mix-up in the August election, the voters should get another chance to have their say on annexation by OAD.
“It’s in the voters’ hands,” Butler said.