Letter: Library-MVRS funding comparison unnecessary
The Feb. 7 issue of the Gazette-Journal had a front-page item concerning the state of funding for the Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad, which should be of concern to all Mathews residents.
Unfortunately, the story made some unnecessary comparisons of the MVRS per capita funding level and that of the Mathews Memorial Library. It is my view that the library should have been left out of the discussion, because the mission of these departments is fundamentally different. The library "enhances" the lives of the citizens of Mathews County, while the MVRS "saves" lives.
As an older citizen, I have used the MVRS in critical times, both for myself and members of my family. I know that the shortest response time possible, from the 911 call to arriving at the ER, is important in saving lives.
Short response requires trained personnel on duty at the MVRS building during critical hours, and this is very hard to do with an all-volunteer staff. Unfortunately, due to federal law, the use of a paid staff for critical hours who then volunteer for less-critical hours is forbidden. They must either be paid for all hours or be unpaid volunteers for all hours. The MVRS option is to either pay some staff for all shift hours and reduce response times, or rely completely on volunteers and accept longer response times—which may cost lives.
Mathews does not need deaths due to delayed transport, or overworked and unappreciated volunteers. It is also true that the community does not need critics who raise questions but provide no answers, an anathema to me during my corporate days. MVRS needs additional funds now and into the future. So what to do?
First: Find the $40k MVRS says it needs to get past the present crisis. The board of supervisors should immediately reconsider the MVRS funding request that was $90k and is now $40k. Secondly, the board, with the assistance of the MVRS, should review the Gloucester and Middlesex fire and rescue budgets to determine what is in their plans that elicits per-capita support at twice the rate we enjoy in Mathews, so that a campaign can be established to sell such a plan to our citizens. Thirdly, the MVRS needs to explain more fully how individual contributor funds are used and how individual contributors can be encouraged to equal the Middlesex and Gloucester per-capita levels in their giving.
As a final note, our lives do need enhancing as well as saving, and our library, under the direction of Bette Dillehay, is truly a center of excellence. In my view, the library deserves all such funding as Bette Dillehay presents and can justify to the board to enhance the lives of our residents. There should have been no apple-and-orange per-capita comparison as presented in the Feb. 7 Gazette-Journal, and I hope that is ended.
William R. French