"We’re busier that we’ve ever been," said Director of the Granite Falls Ambulance Gene Hughes.

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When Gene Hughes came on as Director of the Granite Falls Ambulance in 2001 he brought with him a vision that has transformed the Granite Falls’ Ambulance in both philosophy and action. As a result, services have become faster, more diverse and effective––catalyzing an increase in monthly service calls from 12 to a 65-70.
 Said Hughes, “We’re busier that we’ve ever been.”
The Ambulance Director  was on hand for Monday night’s Granite Falls City Council meeting and left no doubt that the ambulance service is more important and valuable to the community than it has ever been. At the same time, however, he said that it too is feeling the constraint of limited or diminishing financial resources that have permeated most every foundational institution in the community.
“It’s impossible to maintain an ambulance service with trucks and equipment [under current funding models],” he told council members.
As a solution, Hughes requested that the council follow the city of Clarkfield’s lead by approving  a service contract between the city and townships assessing an annual ambulance service fee. For Granite Falls this would constitute a $5,000 contribution whereas for townships, the cost would be $100 per section, or roughly $.15 per acre. Over 5-years this would total $125,000––or just enough money to buy a type-one ambulance.
According to Hughes it was an easy sell in Clarkfield and preliminary discussions with local landowners have prompted comments of surprise it hasn’t been done sooner.
The Granite Falls Council noted that the fire department already utilizes a similar contract and also gave high praise to Hughes for elevating the quality of the ambulance services and for its extraordinarily fast response times.
“There’s a lot of lives that have been saved because of that. I don’t know how else to put it,”  said Mayor Dave Smiglewski.
Despite indicating that they would support the contract, council members would elect to hold off on any concrete action so to allow for Hughes to approach the Township Boards first. It will be up to the individual townships to decide whether or not they want to take part. And while Hughes said its not something he wants to shove down anyone’s throat, he also acknowledged: “The less people that help out, the less likely we will be able to survive.

In other news:
•After calling for proposals for professional and design services for the repair of the Volstead House Museum foundation at the council's first meeting in March, council members voted to hire Gene Dwyer of LS Engineers out of LeSueur at a cost $25,160. LS Engineers was the only entity to submit a proposal out of three who received the request. His $25,160 proposal was $4,660 over what was budgeted for the project and will have to be covered by the city. In December the Granite Falls Historical Society received a 153,990 grant, which they matched with an in-kind contribution of 23,013, to fund the work. Of note is that Dwyer performed the initial inspection used by the historical society for the basis of the grant.
•Council approved a low bid in the amount $18,947 to local contractor Baker Brothers Construction for the demolition of the former Patten House and Garage at 1884 Highway 212 West.
•At the recommendation of Fire Chief Craig Opdahl, council members authorized an application to the 2015 Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant Program that would make the department eligible for 50/50 matching grants up to $5,000.
In addition, council members accepted an additional proposal by Opdahl wherein the Granite Falls Fire Relief Association donate three turnout gear and a new grass rig purchased through fundraisers to the city.  
•Council members passed a resolution to accept a Petition from the Granite Falls Hospital And Manor requesting the extension of public improvements  to serve the nursing home site in its planned new location near the Granite Ridge Place.
In addition, city representatives directed City Engineer Dave Berryman  to prepare a report for 2014 Street/Utility Improvements.