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Rescue squad OK with new bylaws, if two more board members are added

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Rescue Squad is prepared to approve changes to its bylaws, but it wants its executive board to consider making one more.
Members present at Wednesday’s business meeting said they want to add two at-large rescue squad members to the two they already have on the executive board of directors.
They made a motion and seconded it to approve a draft of the bylaws with changes recommended by commissioners. But they named one condition — that the executive board consider their request for more representation at its next meeting Tuesday.
The rescue squad will hold a full vote on the document at its membership meeting on the first Wednesday in February.
The squad has until March 29 to revise its bylaws to commissioners’ standards, or the county will lower its funding from $350,000 to $300,000. The county already cut squad funding from $400,000 last year.
The draft bylaws would give the board final approval over budget and policy decisions. The squad’s chief would be in charge of day-to-day operations and would be appointed by the board — not the squad’s membership, as under the current bylaws.
After Wednesday’s meeting, member Brittany Barnhardt said this shift in power to the board is what prompted the squad to ask for more voting members.
“I think it’s important, as we move forward and the board has more control over the organization, to have more representation for our squad,” she said.
During the meeting, member Mitch Grubb first made a motion to accept the draft bylaws with the new change added. Barnhardt seconded.
Some raised concern, though, that the board wouldn’t approve that change, delaying the update in the bylaws. Even if it met the approval of the squad’s board, commissioners — particularly Chairman Jim Sides — could turn it down.
“I don’t feel confident in us adding two members, putting us in limbo and losing our funding,” said Eric Schenk, a lieutenant with the squad.
Grubb said the number of members wasn’t included in the commissioners’ requirements, including Sides’.
“It can’t hurt to try,” Barnhardt added. “If we don’t do it, we don’t know what would come from it if we did.”
Chief Eddie Cress warned the squad that it could be “gambling its money” by going above and beyond the minimum changes.
This week’s meeting was a continuation of the Jan. 2 business meeting, when members were presented with a previous draft of the bylaws. They decided they had too many concerns about the scope of the changes, so they would scale it back to the minimum required by the county.
That decision met agreement by the squad’s board, which includes Sides, at its own meeting on Tuesday. The board also said, though, that the bylaws should be rewritten in the future.
After more discussion Wednesday, squad members came up with a compromise.
Grubb amended his motion to accept the draft bylaws as presented, on the condition that their request for two more members is heard at the next executive board meeting.
Right now, the board is made up of 10 voting members — a county commissioner, the county emergency services director, one squad member to serve as secretary, two at-large squad members and five people from the community who don’t work for the squad or the county.
Of the five community appointments, the squad appoints three and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners appoints two.
That means the board has four members employed or appointed by the county, along with six members employed or appointed by the squad.
Members at Wednesday’s meeting, though, said they wanted to secure a bigger voice on the board while they still have influence.

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Twitter: twitter.com/postcopolitics
Facebook: facebook.com/Karissa.SalisburyPost

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