Barona, Sycuan give Ramona district $210,000 for ambulance
By Karen Brainard
Ramona Municipal Water District Fire Department has received a $210,000 grant from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund for a new ambulance.
Battalion chiefs Saul Villagomez and Burke Kremensky and Emergency Medical Services Coordinator Jack Wethey requested the grant.
“We’re always looking for grants and ways for additional revenue for the department,” said Villagomez.
He expressed his appreciation to the San Diego Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee, along with Edwin “Thorpe” Pomero, chairman for the Barona Band of Mission Indians, and Daniel J. Tucker, chairman for the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation.
“We appreciate their generosity with helping out through the grant program,” Villagomez said.
In March, Villagomez, Wethey and Kremensky applied to the Indian Gaming Local Community Benefits Committee for a grant to purchase a new Type 1 Advanced Life Support ambulance.
They announced at the Ramona Municipal Water District Board meeting on July 10 that they had received the grant.
“In these difficult economic times these grants are few and far between,” noted RMWD General Manager David Barnum. “Competition is stiff for these items.”
Wethey said competition for the grant funds included California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and local hospitals.
Pointing out that the Ramona Fire Department has a mutual aid agreement with Barona, Wethey said, “We have a really good working relationship with Barona.”
Wethey said the department has three ambulances but one has 186,000 miles and will require more maintenance. The new ambulance will serve as a front line resource in Ramona and will be available to Barona as part of the mutual aid agreement.
Wethey said they will review options for ambulances and bring their selection to the board for approval.
According to Barnum, without grant funding, the district would have to increase the fire EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) charged to customers or use discretionary property tax revenues to purchase a new ambulance.
In 2003, the state established the Special Distribution Fund (SDF) pursuant to tribal-state gaming compacts, as required by Senate Bill 621. In San Diego County, the SDF is funded by the sovereign nations of Barona and Sycuan.
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