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Reynolds County Ambulance District in Turmoil

The Reynolds County Ambulance Board is in turmoil. For quite some time, the board has been operating two board members short. Thursday night, June 30, three of the four remaining board members announced their intentions to resign and agreed to serve an additional 60 days until the county commission can appoint new members. The ambulance district administrator also resigned.
The are two other vacancies on the board are over 60 days. According a member of a neighboring county’s ambulance board, Ambulance Districts must be filled within 60 days. If a vacancy is open over 60 days, the county commission must appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
Currently serving on the board are Tina Mahler of Ellington, Toni Henegar of Bunker, and Paula Henson of Lesterville. Mahler, Henegar, and Henson were present at Thursday night’s meeting.
A former employee had informed the board since the 60-day period had passed, she would contest any appointment made by the ambulance board. She wrote them told them that the county commission must appoint for either of those two positions in order for it to be legal.
It was stated at the meeting that “no one had responded to Sue Black’s letters.” Presiding Joe Lloyd put the information about the two vacancies on the county’s Facebook page and they had been contacted by one person interested in serving and representing the Lesterville area. The county commission was slated to discuss this person’s appointment at Tuesday’s meeting; results from that meeting were not available when the newspaper was printed. The Webb seat has been open for two years.
Membership on the board is divided by Township. There are supposed to be one representative from each of Reynolds County’s townships–Logan, Carroll, Black River, Jackson, Lesterville, and Webb.
The meeting was held in the courtroom at the Reynolds County Courthouse in Centerville. A large crowd attended the meeting including State Representative Chris Dinkins, Presiding Commissioner Joe Lloyd, and Commissioner Larry Pogue Jr. Several members of the fire department were in attendance.
The meeting was not posted on the door of the ambulance district; no posting of the meeting was made at the courthouse either. At the start of the meeting, one member of the audience asked to put a tape recorder on the table where the board was sitting and was told audio taping could not occur. He told the board members that the Sunshine Law allows taping of meeting and asked if they were going to deny his access when State Rep. Chris Dinkins was in attendance.
“You have a state representative here that will tell you that it lawful,” Shane Babb of Piedmont told the board. Babb was then told do “whatever he liked.”
During the board chairman’s report, resignations were discussed.
“I am turning in my resignation effective tonight. As you know, it is a volunteer position,” board chairman Tina Mahler said. “We are not paid anything. We don’t want to be paid anything. All that any of us chair about is having good ambulance service in this county. That is all we have ever cared about. That is why I accepted an appointment to the board and then was re-elected. My family lives here; my friends live here. Without having a hospital, I wanted the best possible ambulance service we could have. But, I am tired. I have personal things going on. I have served for five years. I appreciate all of my fellow board members and how hard they work. I appreciate the opportunity to be here and work with them. But, I have some personal things I need to take care of. So, I need to resign.”
The meeting was turned over to the vice chair, Toni Henegar, who also announced she was resigning. “I have went back and forth for about six months. I work 65 hours a week. I am a single mom. I go to work at 3 a.m. and sometimes I am here until 8 p.m. I turn around and I go home and worry about everything that is going on here. I, too, care about this. I have been doing this about seven. I did it for the same reason, because I care. Whenever there is a call in Bunker, they are probably picking up my family, my friends, or a friend of the family, someone I know or worked with. It is not for lack of caring. I have had a lot of health issues in the last six months. I am on a lot of different medicines and and it messes with me. Right now, I cannot. In a couple of months, if I get it lined out and you need some help, I would not care to come back. Right now, I am physically exhausted and I can’t. It is not for lack of caring.”
Paula Henson also announced she is resigning. She said she has so much going on. “Since I got on this board, it has been a sh*t show from the get go. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to cause bad feelings among my friends. It aint worth it to me. It is not worth it to have hard feelings with my neighbors. I am done.”
“Can we discuss this in closed session?” asked Reynolds County Presiding Commissioner Joe Lloyd.
The board then announced they were going into closed session. No voted of any kind was taken. It was said that the only ones allowed to say were board members, Presiding Commissioner Lloyd, Commissioner Pogue, and State Rep. Chris Dinkins.
“Just for the record, you are going into closed session and making everyone leave?” asked Babb. He was told that was correct.
After the board returned from closed session, the three women would serve an additional 60 days, which will give the county commission to appoint new boards. Board members cannot walk away from a board if it will leave a board with less than a quorum.
Ambulance District
Has Good Audit
It was reported that the ambulance district was recently audited and the audit came out good, according to Sue Black, who has handled the district’s finances the last few years.
“It has been accepted by the state,” Black said. “It had very few odds and ends, but everything came out good.”
• Income for the ambulance district is slow right now. Black said this is due to running just one ambulance.
“There was a problem with the biller,” Black told the board.
JD Jagelovicz said,”The billing company got deleted. The State of Missouri keeps deleting employees, and they deleted our billing reps on the system. So, I contacted the woman who is in charge of it; she is all alone down there. She told me that she doesn’t understand why there is a glitch. When the system updates, it either deletes or logs off our users. So, I have to go back in and approve them. Nine times out of 10, it turns out they have been deleted. I don’t have the power to add them back in, so I have to get back with state and get them in again. She had been deleted from our system; we got her added back on and her associate. Hopefully, thing will start back up.”
Black told the board that reimbursements have started to flow back in. The ambulance district received more money from VA than they had been getting.)
Last year, the ambulance district received over $600,000 in sales tax revenue (which is about double from normal years) and over $117,000 in property tax revenue. The rest of the district’s funding comes from reimbursements from insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, and VA.

Former Employee
Questions Board
Gabby Fitzwater, a former employee of the district was given 5 minutes to address the board. She requested her PTO be paid to her.
“When I had a meeting with JD prior to my resignation that I was told the board decided I had 24 hours to sign a waiver of claims and non disparaging agreement tacked on to the exit packet that looked to be made specifically made for me,” Fitzwater said. “I chose not to sign it. I didn’t feel that was in my best interest. So, JD informed me that the board made a decision that I had 24 hours to sign this document to receive my PTO. I am asking to get my PTO that is due to me. When and in what board meeting did the board make that decision It is not produced in any of the meeting minutes that I have. I have requested all meeting minutes and agendas previous and concurrent.”
Fitzwater was asked if she had all meeting agendas. She did not have the agenda for the May 10 meeting. “This is the meeting where my appointment was going to be suspended or not was discussed,” Fitzwater said. “I was told there was no agenda.”
The board agreed no agenda existed. They said the meeting was held to discuss Fitzwater’s employment.
“You still have to have an agenda,” Fitzwater reminded the board. “Are you able to get me the agenda for that May 10 meeting?”
“For emergency meetings when it is dealing with an employee, we have never done one,” a board member said. “The auditors have never said anything, and an attorney has never said anything.”
“In that meeting, did you begin in an open session?” Fitzwater questioned. The board it opened in open session.
“I tried to go in the building and JD said I couldn’t,” Fitzwater told the board. “You needed time to discuss things. That would imply to me that it began in closed session.”
The board told Fitzwater that it was a closed. session.
“You cannot begin a meeting in closed session,” Fitzwater said. “You have to begin a meeting in open session and then vote to go into a closed session.”
Any time a board goes into closed session, a motion has to be made stating why the board is entering into closed session, according to the Missouri Sunshine Law. A rollcall vote must be made.
“I digress,” Fitzwater said. “I am here to ask for my PTO.”
According to Jagelovicz, Fitzwater was not vested into her PTO. “You failed to give two weeks notice,” Jagelovicz said. “That is per policy and has been per policy ever since the day we started it. I can’t give you the exact date we started it. It is in the policy manual that you are required to give two weeks notice of termination of employment; if you fail to do so, you are no longer vested in your PTO hours.”
“I would like a copy of that policy,” Fitzwater requested.

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