2009-01-14 / News

Neon council upset by threat of TV changes

By WILLIAM FARLEY

Television viewers in the Fleming-Neon area may be faced with losing several longtime favorite channels if a warning from Inter Mountain Cable comes true.

In its January meeting, the Fleming-Neon City Council discussed a letter received by Mayor Susie Polis from Inter Mountain to warning that several broadcast channels from West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia may be terminated if negotiations to satisfy the stations' demands for payment are not successful.

The channels which may be lost are WSAZ in Huntington, W.Va.; WCYB in Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City, Tenn.; WJHL in Johnson City, Tenn.; WOWKin Huntington/Charleston, W.Va.; and WKPT in Kingsport, Tenn.

Council member Karen Hall said that a similar letter had been sent to customers to TV Service of Hindman.

Council member Cheryl Furby told council members she had called Inter Mountain headquarters but was able to learn little. While several council members agreed with Furby that the situation is not satisfactory, James D. Collins pointed out that while the council has the ability to intercede it cannot do anything until the cable company violates its agreement by removing the programming. Mayor Polis agreed.

"We're aware of the possibility of losing these channels," said Polis. "But we can't do anything until they act. They haven't broken the contract."

In other business, Water Department Superintendent Carlos Phillips reported that losses of treated water due to leaks are down about five percent, to 27 percent, and the city's wells are gaining due to a rainy autumn and winter. However, Phillips cautioned the council against being overly optimistic, saying that the winter is usually a net loss time for water levels.

"We're not out of the woods," said Phillips. "Winter is a historically low pool, so we just have to wait and see."

Phillips told the council the main well is gaining slowly, mostly due to gains in ground water from heavy rains. He said they are continuing to use both wells on 12- hour shifts and the auxiliary well is overflowing every morning when they switch over from the main well. He also said that both the water and sewer plants are in good shape at present except for slight damage at the water plant from an electrical outage, and water department workers have located one more serious leak and will repair it as soon as repairs caused by the electrical outage are complete. Phillips also told the council the water department has ordered 48 factory-rebuilt water meters to replace existing meters as they fail. He said this is more cost efficient than having the meters rebuilt and they last longer.

The council welcomed newly elected members Sam "Trey" Quillen III and Lucky Cantrell. Both participated in their first meeting but took it slowly and listened to the more senior members make their cases before weighing in on various topics. Quillen, who works with the Fleming-Neon Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Service, said he would see if the fire department would help the city take down some Christmas decorations which may be hazardous due to the height at which they are placed.

In the police report, Officer Kevin Fields told the council he is concentrating a good deal of his patrol time toward dealing with the speeding situation in Fleming and other parts of the city. Fields said a weekend accident left the Fleming Pentecostal Church with damages from a vehicle impact. He said complaints about stray dogs have also taken some of his time but he believes the dog situation is about to be resolved. Council member Karen Hall praised Fields and Chief Henry Day for dealing with the speeders and said she has received a number of telephone calls from Fleming residents who complimented the department on their efforts as well.

The council discussed high water in Fleming and other parts of town that several members said is due to stopped up culverts and ditches which need to be cleaned. Mayor Polis asked members to list those they know about and to look for others which need attention. Polis said she would discuss the matter with former council member Billy Smallwood at the state highway garage and look for a contractor to clean those ditches and culverts which are the city's responsibility.

The council also discussed the possibility of retaining Hazard accountant Chris Gooch to conduct future city audits and checked on progress in obtaining new payroll software for city accounts. Several members said there is a possibility the city may be able to obtain the old Dawahare's building, which all agreed is in good shape. Mayor Polis said she has had no further contact with Castlewood, Va. businessman Dennis Porter, who attended the December meeting and expressed an interest in locating a business in Neon.

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