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Originally published: 2014-02-04 18:48:48
Last modified: 2014-02-04 18:49:33

County votes to purchase land

by Allison Haver

The Watauga County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to purchase 13 acres in Vilas for $102,000 on Tuesday.

The land will be used to accommodate an ambulance station in hopes to decrease the response time to emergencies in western Watauga.

According to information provided in the commissioners' budget retreat packets last year, the average EMS response time for the fire districts in western Watauga, such as Beaver Dam, Zionville, Cove Creek and Shawneehaw, is the slowest in the county.

Those consolidated districts represent 17 percent of the calls, with an average response time of 18 minutes and 20 seconds, according to the information.

Individual responses to more isolated areas in the western portion of the county can take as long as  30 minutes or longer from stations closest to Boone, it was reported.

County Manager Deron Geouque said Vilas would be the best location for the decrease in response times for the western part of the county, while also aptly serving Boone, which represents 50 percent of all EMS calls.

Commissioners Chairman Nathan Miller said that 13 acres is more land than is needed for the ambulance station, but the landowner refused to split her property.

"We don't need that much land, so we'll probably split it off," Miller said.

The commissioners also set aside $48,000, in addition to the offer to Leslie M. Humphreys, for due diligence of the property that is located near the intersection of U.S. 421 and U.S. 321.

The due diligence period expires in 90 days, and the county is allowed to back out of the purchase during that time.