The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Beacon awarded subsidy to serve Gogebic County


December 13, 2018


Bessemer — The present ambulance service for Gogebic County will continue into 2019, with Beacon Ambulance covering the west end of the county and Aspirus covering the east end.

The Gogebic County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a $370,000 subsidy for Beacon to provide the service.

Aspirus has a current contract that runs through March and will likely be renewed then by the board for the eastern end with a $57,000 subsidy.

Jim Lorenson, of Ironwood, who chairs a special ambulance committee, said efforts continue to get an ambulance permanently located in Watersmeet. Now, an ambulance must respond from Iron River.

In the November election, Gogebic County voters approved a three-year ambulance millage that raises around $523,548 from taxpayers in the first year.

There was one other bidder to provide ambulance services in the west, Integrity Ambulance of Iron Mountain. That company submitted a $370,000 bid and Beacon’s original request was $435,000.

Lorenson said while the original bid from Integrity was lower, the company did not presently have the staff hired, ambulances, nor facilities to serve the county. Integrity would need to hire 12 people over the next three weeks and Lorenson said a lapse in service was a real concern.

“We’d be taking a risk that we don’t want to do,” Lorenson said of hoping that the new company could get up and running by Jan. 1.

Beacon’s track record of exceptional service for decades was another factor in the committee’s decision.

Lorenson said Beacon then lowered its subsidy request, agreeing to come down on estimates for purchasing equipment.

Lorenson said the committee had the authority to negotiate the lower bid in the request for proposals.

Sheriff Peter Matonich, in the audience, said he agreed with the committee’s recommendation.

Integrity would be able to provide two or three ambulances, while Beacon has four, the county board was told.

The vote was 6-0, with board chair George Peterson, of Watersmeet, absent because he was ill.

Lorenson said it will not be necessary for the county board to set up an ambulance authority, as the current large committee structure can continue. He also said while he was pleased with the praise he has received with the passage of the ambulance millage, a whole host of people were involved in that success, on many levels.


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