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A Sad Story – Not a Fairy Tale
Once upon a time there was a need for an ambulance service in Edgar County, and POOF (well, not quite that quickly…), it was done. For many years the People in the land around Paris were cared for with love, first by the Paris City People and later by the Paris Community Hospital, whose People performed the service as volunteers, and guided by a group of people, the Ambulance Board. The People who lived in seven townships in the land paid a tax to have the Ambulance Service.
Over time, some big, scary People joined the Ambulance Board and made decisions that the good People who created it and volunteered to help serve it couldn’t agree with. In the year 1999, two of these good People stated with regret that they could no longer play with their new board members and resigned (Max Carrington and Dr. Haskell). Fine Dr. Haskell was very forthright about his disappointment, but knew he had served the People well. He shared his concern that appointments to the board were becoming more focused on politicians own personal interests than on serving the People.
It appears that in the year of our Lord, 2000, the Edgar County Board, a group of People who make decisions from a Big Building with a Tower, assumed responsibility for providing ambulance service to seven townships. It is called the Edgar County Special Service Ambulance Area (ECSSAA). So, they added another layer of government by hiring an Ambulance Administrator, Dee Burgin, and then found that they were not making enough money, even though they were able to milk over $50,000.00 of Ambulance tax revenue into the General fund in just over 5 months!
In 2003, the Tower People decided to move the Ambulance Service from the logical place, connected to the Paris Community Hospital, to a location at the south end of Paris, which is not the center of the seven townships. They secured a loan for $300,000 to buy the piece of property, Index #09-18-12-327-004, on which an ambulance garage and business office had been custom designed and built by one of the People, Marlin Ingrum, more commonly known as Scott Ingrum.
The Tower People even reported to the county board in January of 2003, before a purchase was ever made that the new building may be opened next month to house the service. Isn’t that interesting? They knew the service was going to be housed there before they ever purchased the property. Such insight of the Tower People!
Still, the Ambulance Service was losing money for the Tower People. So the Tower People said “Sure!” in 2003 when the current Ambulance Administrator wanted to buy the Ambulance Service. He said “I’ll pay you $100,000 for the ambulances, the brand new Ford Excursion you just ordered for me and all of your supplies” (or something very close to that). After discussion with the Tower People and their legal leader, the State’s Attorney, the Tower People and the Ambulance Administrator signed some papers, and POOF! The Ambulance Service was his!
The Tower People knew that the Owner would need a place to put his ambulances, so they transferred possession of the new ambulance property they had just purchased for $300,000.00 with the People’s money. The fortunate new ECSSAA owner, Dee Burgin, just had to assume the loan’s payments although the Tower People were still on the hook if the private service failed. The Tower People still owned the deed for the ambulance property and assets until the loan to purchase the property was completely paid.
The People in the land were served by an ambulance service that was equipped with three ambulances ready at any time. They also could be picked up in the fields or the woods by a specially designed Jeep, part of the purchase deal. The Ambulance Administrator also served them better by driving a brand new 2004 Ford Excursion that he ordered as County Administrator, just a month or so before buying the Ambulance!
In 2004, one of the People discovered that the ECSSAA contract was not accurate because it didn’t say he could only receive as much money to operate his service as the tax levy generated, and so the Tower People and the new ECSSAA owner quietly signed a new contract. The Tower People decided not to make a big deal of it, so they didn’t tell the People of the land.
In 2005, a Bean Counter Person looked at the Tower People’s papers and discovered that the Owner had sent an invoice to the Tower People in February of 2004 claiming an operating expense of $43,000.00 was to be paid, “as approved by the Tower People (county board).” The Bean Counter said “You can’t do that! We already give you money to operate the ambulance – use that money!” (or something like that). The owner also decided the People didn’t use the ambulance enough to need three to be ready all of the time. The Tower People didn’t tell the People of the Land because then the People wouldn’t have needed to pay so many taxes. The Tower People didn’t want the Owner to get in trouble for using the People’s money to run his business, so they quietly signed yet another new contract in 2005, and he had to give the Tower People back $40,000.00. Interesting they didn’t demand the other $3,000.00? Payments were to be a little bit at a time, INTEREST FREE!
In May 2009, the Owner decided he had made enough pots of gold from ECSSAA. He sold it to new owners, who serve the People of the land well.
Why is this a sad story instead of a fairy tale with a Happy Ending?
I was appointed to the original Ambulance Board and have continued to serve on it until today. Although I plan to continue serving the citizens of Edgar County and the surrounding area by continuing my service on the Edgar County Public Health Department, the Illinois Region Six Trauma committee, and the Illinois Region Six Ambulance Morbidity and Mortality Review committee, I find it necessary to resign my position on the Edgar County Special Services Ambulance Board. I now feel that the Ambulance board is being manipulated by a few politicians for their own reasons. Therfore, I can no longer in good conscience continue my associatoin with the Edgar County Special Serivices Ambulance Board.
“I now feel that the Ambulance Board is being manipulated by a few politicians for their own reasons”
We think he hit the nail on the head! Thank you for your service Dr. Haskell!
Summary: At the cost of $100,000.00, Mr. Dee Burgin, currently an Edgar County Deputy Sheriff and Chairman of the 911 board, purchased a company from a public body, when at the time of the purchase was the director of said operation. If one totals: a) the cost of medical supplies purchased prior to the pre-arranged purchase, b)the new vehicle he ordered the month before the purchase, and c)the three ambulances already in the operation, it is clear that Mr. Burgin profited grossly at the expense of the taxpayers in the seven districts that the ECSSAA serves. Did we mention that it was Merle Clark, the former Chairman of the 911 Board, who facilitated the loan to the county in his capacity as State Bank of Chrisman officer? How convenient that Mr. Burgin just happens to be so close to all the players that made this great business venture possible.