Cottonwood Rescue, a nonprofit emergency services provider serving southeast Houston County, closed recently amidst a state investigation into its finances.

Houston County Commission chairman Brandon Shoupe announced the closure in a press release Thursday afternoon.

“The Houston County Commission acknowledges, with regret, the recent closure of Cottonwood Rescue. As Chairman, I have closely monitored the situation since receiving reports of mismanagement and misuse of taxpayer funds allocated to Cottonwood Rescue. These concerns have been reported to the relevant state agency, and we are currently awaiting the results of their ongoing investigation. While this closure is unfortunate, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the EMS Association, Ashford Rescue, Pilcher's Ambulance Service, and the Town of Rehobeth for their swift action in ensuring uninterrupted emergency services to the community formerly served by Cottonwood Rescue.”

The news of Cottonwood Rescue’s closure comes a little over two weeks after a tornado hit the area, killing one and destroying multiple buildings

“The Commission remains committed to supporting our EMS first responders. In fiscal year 2023, we provided $1,453,364.94 to Ashford Rescue, Columbia Rescue Squad, Cottonwood Rescue, the Town of Rehobeth, Wicksburg Rescue, the Houston County Rescue Squad, and the Houston County EMS Association. This funding underscores our dedication to maintaining responsive emergency services throughout the county,” Shoupe said.

“The closure of Cottonwood Rescue, however, underscores a critical consideration for the future of our emergency services," he continued. "The establishment of a county-operated Fire and Rescue Department may one day be a necessary step in ensuring the safety and well-being of our citizens. Identifying a sustainable funding source for such a development may soon become a critical problem for this or a future Commission. In closing, I want to reassure all residents that we are following these developments and will take decisive action as needed.”

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