CALHOUN – Commissioners accept Ringhausen’s resignation
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By Connor Ashlock
The Calhoun Commissioners met on Monday evening, Nov. 15, where several items of business were attended to.
Near the beginning of the meeting, discussion was had concerning setting aside American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the Calhoun Volunteer Ambulance Service. After some discussion, Commissioner Phil Robeen motioned for $10,400 to be set aside for the ambulance service to be used for purchasing such things oxygen, cardiac and air purification supplies, along with personal protective equipment. Commissioner Kim Klaas seconded and the motion carried.
Following the motion, Wanda Blackwell, who was present at the meeting, updated the board on the current state of affairs of the ambulance service.
Recently, the service hosted a community meeting in the AV room at the Calhoun High School, which was attended by 17 members of the community not immediately associated with the service.
One of the primary purposes of the meeting was to have an open discussion on making the certification process more accessible to those interested in becoming volunteer EMTs.
Blackwell noted that she was disappointed in the overall turnout and expressed concern to the board about the already overtaxed ambulance service.
The ambulance service is exploring different options on how to generate more revenue as well, which is necessary for the purchasing of equipment to keep the ambulances up to code and legally operable.
It has become increasingly difficult to generate revenue for the service since, in order to be paid, the ambulance must transport the patient to the hospital in order for them to be able to bill for that run.
Instead, other ambulances have been picking up patients from Calhoun ambulances because they are equipped with advanced services that the Calhoun service isn’t able to provide. Thus, other ambulance services are being paid, while the Calhoun service is still making runs and utilizing resources that aren’t recoupable.
There are other concerns that the ambulance service is having to deal with as well, all of which, when grouped together, show that the service is in dire straits at the present time. Anyone who would be interested in volunteering their time or support in whatever capacity is encouraged to contact Blackwell for more information.
In other business, liquor licenses were also brought up at the meeting.
Chairman Terry Woelfel brought up a concern regarding a small but unwise window of time in which local businesses have expired liquor licenses on account of them often re-applying for licenses on the date of expiration, which is a liability.
Woelfel brought up the idea of amending the county’s liquor ordinance requiring that those seeking to re-apply for a liquor license must do so five days in advance of expiration. Some minor discussion was had over whether to make it five days or one week in advance, but overall the idea was favorable to the commissioners.
State’s Attorney Rick Ringhausen plans to draft legislation that incorporates the proposed changes for the commissioners’ consideration.
Motion was made by Commissioner Doug Wilschetz for Ringhausen to draft the proposed changes and was seconded by Robeen.
Ringhausen will also be drafting some language for a possible ordinance that would require groups like motorcycle clubs, bicyclists and other groups that comprise more than 25 people to contact the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) beforehand so that a safety plan can be developed. Deputy Greg Weishaupt, who asked the board to consider this measure, stressed that these types of clubs, groups and organizations would not be required to pay for a permit, but just simply contact the CCSO so that they are aware of the event and can work to coordinate such factors as resident safety, participant safety and whether or not an ambulance or extra law enforcement staff would need to be on standby.
Near the close of the meeting, Calhoun County State’s Attorney Richard “Rick” Ringhausen announced his forthcoming retirement from his office, effective January 16, 2022.
In his letter addressed to Chairman Woelfel, Ringhausen stated, “Having practiced law for over 37 years, I can say that the past nine years as Calhoun County State’s Attorney have been a rewarding professional life experience. I wish to express my gratitude to the good people of Calhoun County for having trusted me, and for having given me the opportunity to serve them in this important position.”
Ringhausen additionally thanked the commissioners for their support, as well his county government colleagues and the dedicated law enforcement of the county, all of whom he denotes as friends.
Further, Ringhausen promised to ensure a smooth transition for the sake of the county as well as the next office holder.
“God has blessed our community, and in so doing, has blessed me and my family. I will continue to treasure the friendships that I have enjoyed over the years, as I look forward to this next chapter of my life,” Ringhausen concluded in his letter.
Following Ringhausen’s announcement, Patrick Schumann with the public defender’s office in Madison County expressed his intention to apply to fill the vacancy created by Ringhausen’s resignation, having made this announcement during the public comment portion of the evening.
Lastly, the commissioners have opened up bidding for snow removal and lawn care of the courthouse grounds. Interested individuals may bring their bids to the county clerk’s office in the Marvin Richter Administrative Building during normal hours of operation.