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TIERS gets new ambulance

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CLAYTON — A new ambulance has been delivered to the Thousand Islands Emergency Rescue Service and is due to hit the roads soon.

“I think this is a significant morale booster,” said Roland G. Churchill, executive director of the rescue service. “In essence, it serves the same purpose, but it’s a newer, more modern version of the ambulance it will be replacing.”

The rescue squad is getting the new vehicle in the midst of an operational restructuring — which led to the recent resignation of TIERS board of directors Chairman Dale A. Kenyon — to get the nonprofit out of financial trouble.

Mr. Churchill said the rescue squad had applied for federal funds last year, before it was hit with the “financial slump” it’s facing now.

“The old ambulance was costing us a significant amount of money in repairs and maintenance,” Mr. Churchill said, estimating that TIERS was spending $13,000 to $14,000 annually for the upkeep of the decade-old ambulance that’s being replaced.

In August, TIERS successfully secured a total of $118,000 in federal loans and grant funding.

The $41,300 grant and $76,700 loan were awarded through U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office’s Community Facility Loan and Grant program.

Clayton town Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said the annual debt payment will be levied on the Ambulance District, with the first year’s payment set at $8,500.

Mr. Taylor said the Town Council strongly believes that supporting the rescue squad serves the interest of the community at large.

The new vehicle joins a fleet of relatively new ambulances — the two other rigs are 2010 and 2011 models — and adds GPS capabilities and newer radios, among other features.

“It’s also better for the safety of the crew working in the back,” Mr. Churchill said.

The rescue squad is unlikely to find a buyer for its old ambulance. TIERS is considering keeping the vehicle as a backup ambulance or donating it to another organization.

The new vehicle will be registered and insured in the next couple of weeks and should be operational by early October, Mr. Churchill said.

To celebrate the newest addition to its fleet and to acknowledge the volunteer work of the Blue Ribbon Committee — a group of 15 citizens formed to assist TIERS with its restructuring — the rescue squad plans to hold a “Blue Ribbon”-cutting ceremony in the first week of October at its 100 Union St. headquarters.

Mr. Churchill said he plans to invite U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, both D-N.Y., and Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, to the event to thank them for supporting TIERS.

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