LYON MOUNTAIN -- There is now paid daytime staff for the ambulance here seven days a week.

"Overall response time is between two and four minutes," estimated Bob Weeks, chairman of Lyon Mountain Fire District's Board of Fire Commissioners.

The district, in operation since the start of 2005, contracts with Lyon Mountain EMS for the service. Previously, the Fire Department had too few volunteers available in the daytime and couldn't, by law, hire help.

That's one big reason the Fire District formed.

The other was money, which just wasn't enough to equip the department properly under the old setup.

"They were actually getting less than what their bills cost," Weeks said.

And, a district, he said, gets better interest rates on loans and more funding opportunities.

"One of our first things was to update all the equipment. It was just so antiquated and nonfunctional."

The district won a grant that paid for a new pumper/tanker, meeting its goal of retiring its 1973 pumper and a 1975 tanker.

"It replaced two with one," Weeks said.

More grant applications are in the works, now.

With a total budget of $148,261, district taxpayers paid a rate of about $1.35 per $1,000 assessed property value in 2007, down one cent over 2006. Dannemora taxpayers within the district kicked in $98,275, while Ellenburg property owners (Merrill) contributed $48,146, and those in the Saranac hamlet of Standish pitched in $1,840.

This year, the district paid Lyon Mountain EMS $49,800 for ambulance service.

It is tax money, rather than private insurance billing, that pays for trips to the hospital.

"We're pleased with Lyon Mountain Inc.," Weeks said. "We've had good feedback" from the community, too.

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