PRINCETON — Gibson County Council members Tuesday authorized Gibson County Emergency Medical Service Director Jim Allen to increase transport rates for the county-owned ambulance service.

Allen told the county's fiscal body that increasing the rates will allow the local ambulance service to remain competitive.

Rates would increase from $500 to $600 for basic life support emergency runs, from $350 to $450 for basic life support non-emergency runs, from $600 to $700 for advanced life support emergency runs, from $500 to $600 for advanced life support non-emergency runs, from $850 to $950 for ALS II level emergency runs, and from $14 loaded mileage to $16 loaded mileage.

Based on 2018 ambulance calls, the new rates would generate about $150,000 more in revenue, said Gibson County Commissioner Gerald Bledsoe. The additional revenue could help offset some of the overtime expenses in the department, he suggested.

Last year the department made about 3,000 runs, traveling nearly 73,780 miles in medical calls.

Allen told the council that run volumes and the type of transport vary, so the total revenue collected would be an estimate of what it could be after insurance payments and write-offs.

In other business at Tuesday's monthly session, the council approved the appointment of Wil Niederhaus to the Gibson County Parks Board.

Niederhaus, head coach of the Oakland City University cross country team, said he wants to work to develop a nationally-recognized cross country running course at the park southeast of Francisco. He said the project could attract a variety of university cross country meets in addition to local schools and charity 5K and 10K events.

Gibson County Emergency Management Agency Director Terry Hedges told the council that county expense involved in response and recovery from last week's F1 tornado in Oakland City was limited, noting that local officials met most of the needs.

Hedges said the National Weather Service classified the storm as an F1 tornado with 110 mph winds, cutting a 100-yard-wide path as it damaged trees, utility poles and some structures. "I call it wind shear, but then, I don't work for the National Weather Service," Hedges said of the NWS assessment of the storm.

Hedges said the storm took a rather predictable path, noting that "If it isn't Owensville, Fort Branch and Mackey," storms seem to track toward Oakland City.

Oakland City's last major weather event was a 2012 microburst that caused damage across the city during the Lions Club Sweet Corn Festival.

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