— The Livingston Parish Council approved a four-year extension of its contract with Acadian Ambulance Services last week and agreed to seek state grants for several of the parish’s fire districts.

The parish also will seek Local Government Assistance Program grants for the parish animal shelter, Historic Carter House and Hungarian Settlement Museum, as well as to buy another sandbagging machine, according to resolutions the council passed Jan. 28.

Mark Harrell, Livingston’s director of emergency preparedness, said the parish is limited in how much grant funding it can seek through the state’s LGAP program, so officials must be strategic in their requests. He said he focused the grant requests on those fire districts least capable of financially supporting themselves.

Fire Chief Joe Koczrowski, of District 5, which is not slated to receive a grant, said the rural districts would benefit from the funds far more than his district would be hurt by not receiving them.

Fire Chief Brian Drury, of the Springfield-area District 2, agreed the small grant requests — most of which are less than $4,300 — could make a huge impact for rural districts like his, which can run low on funds by October each year.

The LGAP funds are provided annually through the state’s capital outlay fund and can be used for an array of purposes, including fire and police protection, sewer and water improvements, equipment purchases and renovations to existing government buildings.

In other business, the council agreed to extend its contract with Acadian Ambulance for four years.

Richard Frederick, a Denham Springs resident who works in emergency medical services in Baton Rouge, applauded Acadian’s service to Livingston Parish, but he also expressed some concerns about the contract.

Those concerns included the length of the extension, which Frederick said should be no more than two years; the age of the contract and its lack of recent amendments; a series of what Frederick deemed “unnecessary penalizations” against both Acadian and the parish; and a lack of clarity in the clause dealing with patient refusals of service.

Frederick also said the parish should take a harder look at the response-time zones and determine whether the minimum required response times might be lowered in some areas.

Frederick said he did not fault the council — all nine members of which took office less than a month ago — for not fully understanding the contract’s terms. But he urged the council to approve only a six-month extension and to require its Quality Assurance Panel to re-examine the issues before moving forward.

Harrell, the emergency preparedness director and a member of the Quality Assurance Panel, said the panel had no issues with the contract and recommended the four-year extension.

The council unanimously approved the extension as recommended.

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