The Wayne County Board of Commissioners were divided Tuesday in a 4-3 vote to purchase and renovate the former Grantham Rescue Squad building at a $467,050 cost.

Commissioner Joe Daughtery, board chairman, Commissioner Antonio Williams, Commissioner Freeman Hardison and Commissioner Bevan Foster voted in favor of the purchase, which will be paid for through American Rescue Plan funds.

Voting against the deal were Commissioner Charles Gurley, Commissioner Barbara Aycock and Commissioner Wayne Aycock.

Allison Speight, Wayne County finance director, said the cost to purchase and renovate the facility, at 3420 U.S. 13 South, is $467,050, which includes a $180,000 cost for the building and remaining $287,050 for renovations, which may include a new roof.

Joe Gilie, Wayne County public information officer, said the rescue building is located next door to the Grantham Volunteer Fire Department, at 3430 U.S. 13 South.

Members of the rescue department asked the county in March 2021 to buy the building because the county had taken over EMS services in the area. The county decision to serve the area resulted in a decision by rescue squad members to dissolve the Grantham Rescue Squad.

Wayne County has been allocated $23.9 million in ARP funds, half which it received in May 2021 and the other half it received this year, Gillie said.

Commissioners are considering using some of the county’s ARP funds for broadband expansion throughout Wayne County. ARP funds will need to be used by December 2026.

No timetable for the Grantham Rescue Squad building renovations has been set, Gillie said. The building sale is expected to be final by July 1, since the ARP funding is included within the county’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget.

Wayne Aycock said during Tuesday’s meeting he was against the purchase for a variety of reasons.

“I don’t think this is a right decision, concerning the property lines, and the size of the building, and the age of the building,” he said. “I will say that as long as I am involved in making decisions for the county, we will always have a rescue building in Grantham, but I just don’t believe it’s in the best interest of the county to move forward with purchasing this piece of property.

“I’m not saying we don’t need to continue to use this building for a while until we can make a decision. I think we need to continue using it if we have the blessings of the Grantham community and pay them rent, but at this time I cannot vote for this. I just do not think this is a good plan for the county.”

The county has been renting the building from Grantham Rescue Squad since 2002 at a rate of $3,600 per year, Gillie said. The rent is paid for through the county Emergency Medical Services budget.

Gurley, who attended the meeting remotely, said he agreed with everything that Aycock had to say. Barbara Aycock said she was concerned about the cost to buy and renovate the building, as well.

Hardison spoke in support of the purchase saying he would rather see the county buy an existing building and renovate it than have to potentially spend more money to build a new facility.

“If we’re building a building, we’re talking about spending over $400,000 on a plot and that will have to have dirt hauled into it,” Hardison said. “I’m not in favor of building another $400,000 building now or in the near future.”

The board’s vote in favor of buying and renovating the Grantham Rescue building is just the most recent move that the county has taken in regard to Wayne County EMS. The board voted 6-1 at its May 17 meeting to use $1 million of the ARP funding to buy four new ambulances for the agency. Foster cast the lone dissenting vote in that decision.

The board also received a presentation from Dave Cuddeback, Wayne County EMS director, about the possibility of enacting a subscription-based ambulance service during its May 3 meeting. No action was taken on the matter following the presentation.

The board canceled its next meeting, which was scheduled to be held July 5. Its next meeting will be held July 19.

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