Two candidates are competing for the Pettis County Ambulance District Board of Directors Sub-District 4 in the April 5 municipal election, incumbent Les Harrell and newcomer Bill Griffith.
Harrell is retired as a captain in the Army National Guard and has worked in management since he was 17, starting in the Army Reserves. He worked at the Democrat for 50 years, serving as Production Manager for 22 years. He has served on the Sedalia Public Library Board and is now a member of the Police Personnel Board.
“I was on the beginning of the board. Pettis County was in dire need of an ambulance service …” Harrell said of why he decided to seek re-election. “I saw a need then and I’ve been on the board all along since we just had a board and an administrator and now we have a headquarters and a satellite station going up. I just see a need for that and I want to keep helping them out if I can.”
He said some of the top issues facing the district include the construction of the new headquarters on West 16th Street next to the Sedalia Fire Department headquarters, continuing to build satellite sites across the county and “keeping up the pace of business we have and the care we’re giving people.”
One of the biggest decisions made by PCAD in the past year was the decision to provide service to the Windsor Ambulance District, which began March 3.
“I think it’s a very good idea,” Harrell said. “I think people don’t realize part of the Windsor Ambulance District is in southwestern Pettis County. It’s a five-year plan; once the Windsor Ambulance District gets their debts paid off and gets back on their feet, we’ll turn it back over to them. Right now my feeling is, and some of the others, if you’ve got a sick person in your house, you want an ambulance. Windsor has been without an ambulance since last summer. I think it’s a good idea. When people need help, that’s what organizations do, they step in and help them.”
PCAD is a relatively new district, as it was approved by voters in April 2012 and operations began in October 2013.
“I think it’s going to keep improving,” Harrell said. “… We’re just going to keep improving and updating our equipment and offering the best ambulance service that people can possibly expect.”
Harrell’s goals if re-elected include continuing to improve and update the district and seeing the new headquarters come to fruition.
“I think I have a proven record in Sedalia of public service,” he said of why citizens should vote for him. “I was on the city council for 22 years and only faced (an opponent) twice in that time. And any time anyone has asked me to help the city, I’ve always stepped in and volunteered to do it. And I know Sedalia and Pettis County well.
Griffith has been involved in the first responders community for decades. He has been a volunteer fireman, serving in the Pettis County Fire District, which he helped when it first started as a volunteer operation in the late 1970s. He now volunteers as the chaplain at the Pettis County Jail.
He ran against Harrell in a four-way race for PCAD Sub-District 4 in 2012.
“Because the people of the Third Ward have asked me,” he said of his decision to run again. “They asked me last time, and this time they’re really putting the pressure on me that they want me to represent them. … I feel like I have been there, done that, anything and everything there is to do with an ambulance.”
When asked about what he thinks are top issues facing PCAD, Griffith didn’t offer any in his answer. He said he wants to make sure PCAD stays in place and offer more help to surrounding counties.
Griffith said he is in support of PCAD providing service to WAD and would even be in support of expanding service to other counties if needed.
“I don’t care where it is, I think we need to help our people in the surrounding area,” he said. “… If we help them to get up on their feet, and get their ambulance back on their feet, then we can pull our resources back to Pettis County. It’s the same thing if we’re going to Cooper County on the east side; we’re closer than some of the other ones are. … If we’ve got the manpower, I think we ought to help them.”
As PCAD moves forward as a more established district, Griffith said he sees the district constructing more substations “so we can get there faster.”
As for goals for office if elected, Griffith said he plans to work with the board members to learn about what they do for the first year or two, then take over their responsibilities once they leave the board.
“I’ve been on an ambulance, fire, rescue, the accidents,” he said of why citizens should vote for him. “I just feel like I’m better qualified than my competitor because I’ve had a lot more training and I’m still getting training.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.