SALISBURY — The rescue squad elected Eddie Cress as its new chief at its membership meeting Wednesday night.
Cress, formerly the assistant chief, will take the place of Coyt Karriker, who has been the squad’s chief for 15 years. He said he’s happy to be chosen to lead the nonprofit organization.
“I look forward to continuing to move the squad forward and making progress, like we have for the last 15 years,” he said. “We will continue to rebuild relationships and offer superior rescue squad service.”
A nominating committee made up of squad members named Cress as its choice for chief in November, and the larger membership confirmed it.
According to minutes from the previous membership meeting, Karriker also was nominated from the floor, but he declined the nomination.
Karriker was not present at Wednesday’s meeting.
“Coyt’s done an excellent job,” Cress said. “I’ve spent eight years serving under Chief Karriker, and I respect him and cherish every moment of that.”
Cress said he will name the squad’s internal leadership, including assistant chiefs, by the end of the month. He said he does not plan to remove any current officers.
The membership also elected new board members and a president Wednesday.
Before the secret ballot vote, the rescue squad board met briefly in another room to discuss an issue with the bylaws. This included Commissioner Jim Sides, even though there was some disagreement about whether the seat still officially belonged to Commissioner Jon Barber until the end of the year.
Jeremy Carter, the board’s attorney, said that while the members nominated three people to the board for Wednesday’s vote, there are technically only two seats open, according to its policies and procedures.
Harold Morefield’s one-year term as board president has expired, but he still has another year left in his two-year term as a board member.
The membership elected Granite Quarry Mayor Mary Ponds to the board, along with Steve Schenk, who was nominated to fill the position of president. Board member Susan Cobb was elected to serve as secretary for another year.
Doug Jones had been nominated to serve another term on the board, but the squad did not vote for him to continue in his seat.
“I have really enjoyed my time on the board,” Jones said, addressing the squad members. “I do want what’s best for the squad, and I understand that change seems to be something the squad’s interested in.”
Martha Yates-Bolman, whose term expires Dec. 31, is leaving the board because her name was not included in the nominations.
“This is a wonderful organization. The volunteers work hard and they’re very dedicated,” Yates-Bolman said. “I’ve had a good term (on the board) with this group of people, and they’re all good people who deserve only the best.”
After the new chief and board members were confirmed, squad member Doug Bare moved that their positions be effective immediately. Squad member Lynn Richardson seconded the motion.
Morefield, the outgoing president, said terms should begin as they always have, on Jan. 1.
At first, he said this was required in the bylaws.
After a squad member said he couldn’t find that requirement, Morefield said the bylaws are “ambiguous” on the matter. Carter confirmed that there is no date specified when terms must begin.
Board member Tim Beaver then raised concerns about how quickly the squad could transfer its license to handle drugs used in the ambulances. But Cress said the rescue squad as a body is licensed to handle those medications, according to federal officials. Transferring the authority between individuals within the squad shouldn’t be a problem, he said.
The membership then voted unanimously to make the new positions effective as soon as the squad gets written confirmation of Cress’ statements from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.