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Let us go back in time ... the 1980s Mattoon, Illinois.

Garbage was picked up for free, and sidewalks were plowed in the residential parts of town.There were 41 police officers, and I believe there were about 40 firemen in three stations. Back then we had the street, sewer and water departments. The downtown was alive with two theaters, several restaurants (some were even open 24 hours-a-day).

Then the city of Mattoon started to change from what was the norm to what we have today. The street, sewer and water departments were combined. (I get that, but at what real cost to the citizens). Now we come to the police department with 39 sworn officers. The fire department with 32 personnel in two stations. Twenty-one are EMTs and 10 are state of Illinois licensed paramedics. There were two ALS ambulances (now in storage).

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So here we are today with the city fathers complaining about the costs, and again services are taken away from the citizens. Now there is a six month moratorium so that the city can figure out what to do.

How about this? Bring back the two ambulances as a back-up to Mitchell-Jerdan and a call service for the citizens of Mattoon. The city will try to tell you that the cost was too high. How much money or equipment has the city subsidized the private companies for ambulance services over the years. The only cost to the city for the ambulances are the cost of the units and maintenance, which are not replaced every year, and the wages, insurance, and retirement of the personnel. The latter three would be there with our without the ambulances. With all the talent on the fire department, what a waste of money and resources.

Robert Zschau, Mattoon

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