The Hillsville Rescue Squad once again was a topic of conversation during the Hillsville Town Council meeting on Sept. 10. When Nancy Beasley addressed the board with her concerns about the rescue squad, it marked the third straight meeting questions had been raised about the squad.
Beasley, who spoke to council during the Citizens to be Heard section of the meeting, said her research revealed that that as far back as 2008 the rescue squad, which has been inactive since sometime in 2006, has been a topic of interest. In a June 22, 2010 article in The Carroll News, Beasley said the council discussed selling off operational ambulances and disbanding the squad, but no action was taken.
Then in a March 17, 2011 edition, Beasley noted there was a discussion about two ambulances and an air compressor being declared surplus. The question of you would benefit from the sale of these items was then raised. Larry South, Hillsville’s town manager at the time, said the money would go to the town, unless council decided otherwise. However, South said that any bank balance or CDs in the rescue squad’s name would be retained by the squad.
Beasley added that her research also revealed only sporadic payments to the State Corporation Committee and a loss of non-profit status due to the failure of the squad to submit the proper forms to the Internal Revenue Service for three straight years. The IRS information was found on Guidestar.org, an organization that advances transparency by gathering and publicizing information about non-profit organizations.
Other questions raised by Beasley were, were audits being done, who is maintaining the bank accounts of the rescue squad, are meeting being held, and, if so, are minutes being kept.
“All these questions should be given a great amount of thought before any legal action is taken to dissolve the HVRS, Inc.,” said Beasley. “I feel that the Town of Hillsville does have a clear path to hold a public hearing to sell the present building located at 516 S. Main St. I suggest that council give a time line to get the building cleaned out and dispose of obsolete items and get it ready for sale.”
Later, during the Reports of Mayor and Council section of the meeting, Councilman Billy Walls, Sr. made a motion that council give “the Hillsville Rescue Squad 60 days to get their equipment out of the building,” which was approved by an unanimous vote. The council will then hold a public hearing on the sale of the rescue squad building, which belongs to the town.
Beasley said during her presentation to council that her research showed that the SCC listed South as president, Frieda Jessup as treasurer and Arlene Martin as secretary of the Hillsville Rescue Squad.
When contacted by The Carroll News on Sept. 12, South he wasn’t sure he was the president. It was also the first he had heard that council had given the rescue squad 60 days to remove its property from the rescue squad building.
“I really don’t know if I’m listed as president or not. I may be listed as the president or treasurer. Elizabeth Rakes files all those corporation papers for us,” said South, adding. “It’s not a town issue. I’m getting a little irritated. If they have a problem, they can call me.”
As to the charge that the Hillsville Rescue Squad has lost its non-profit status, South said he wasn’t aware of such an action.
“We haven’t had any revenue to file,” said South. “I haven’t gotten any letters (from the IRS), and I always check the mailbox.”
As far as the rescue squad’s status as a corporation, South said it was, indeed, a corporation.
“We’re still a corporation because all of the assets haven’t been disposed of yet. I would know, I’ve got both of the checkbooks. There are no issues, monetarily.”
South went on to say that the “liquidation” of the rescue squad’s assets is a priority.
“There is money in the bank. We have one or two CDs and a small checking account. We want to liquidate our assets and disperse the money to non-profits. That’s been our plan all along. We met on that probably a year or year and a half ago, and decided to get rid of the equipment.”
As for the town’s desire to empty the rescue squad building, South said it was “entirely appropriate. I can understand them wanting to get that stuff out of the building.”
South added that interest has been shown in the equipment, and he may have a “fairly local buyer” lined up.