2009-10-21 / Front Page

County officials call for flu shots to cost no more than $15

By WILLIAM FARLEY

Magistrates this week authorized Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward to ask all local healthcare providers to place a $15 limit on the amount they charge for flu shots.

At its October meeting Monday, the court voted 5-0 to approve a resolution introduced by District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming authorizing Ward to write a letter to Appalachian Regional Healthcare and to Pikeville Medical Center asking them to adhere to the same price that Mountain Comprehensive Health Care charges for seasonal flu shots. Fleming said that while MCHC charges the public $15 for a shot, ARH is charging $25 at the Whitesburg hospital and Jenkins clinic, while Pikeville Medical Center is charging $35 at its new clinic in Jenkins. Fleming said insurance co-pay for a flu shot is $10, which he said probably covers the entire cost of the injection.

"If MCHC can do it for $15, then the others can do it for $15," said Fleming. "I was happy to see the Pikeville (hospital) come to Jenkins. I had thought the competition would hold costs down."

In other business, the court took action to move two of its most publicized construction projects forward. By unanimous vote the court gave Ward permission to enter into negotiations with Codell Construction to provide construction management services for the new county recreation center and with Summitt Engineering for the county all-terrain vehicle trail system. Both companies were the only bidders, and Ward said both are well qualified.

The court also voted unanimously to name two bridges for veterans and to dedicate a county road to another. The bridge on Route 588 of Highway 7 near Blackey was named for Private First Class I.D. Back. Back served in the U.S. Army during the Battle of the Bulge and was later well known as an Old Regular Baptist minister and practitioner of "lining" hymns. Back and his congregation made an album with Atlantic Records in 1959 featuring a sermon by Rev. Back and a lining hymn by the congregation. The LP, Southern Folk Heritage Series: White Spirituals (Atlantic LP 1349, SD 1349), is titled Reverend I.D. Back and Congregation.

The bridge at the foot of Seco Hill was named for Staff Sgt. Jack M. Stallard, who served for nine years in the U.S. Air Force, including two overseas tours. County Road 805 was dedicated to Private First Class Joe Van Hoose, who served with the U.S. Army, 11th Airborne, in 1945 during World War II and in 1946.

The court also voted to name the road leading to the Carcassonne Community Center for Charles Whitaker, a retired educator and nationally known square dance caller, who died recently. Musicologist Dale Johnson, who works with the center, said Whitaker had called square dances at the community center since dancing started there more than 40 years ago.

Larry Jones of the Linefork/Kingdom Come Community Center reported on the newly opened center's first events, an artists' festival and the Kingdom Come reunion, and said they had an excellent crowd and a good meal for them. Jones told the court that a donkey basketball game would be held on Dec. 12 and a bluegrass show on Nov. 12. He also said the center has a good supply of used clothing to be distributed to victims of fires.

Letcher County Sheriff's Deputy Wade Adams asked to approach the court as a private citizen to discuss the lack of resource officers in area schools. Adams said the Letcher County School System has more than 3,000 students and one resource officer. He said the need for more officers is great and if the system just had one more officer who could float between schools it might prevent a tragic situation from occurring.

Judge Ward agreed with Adams and said he would be glad to write a letter of support for another officer and speak with Letcher County Schools Superintendent Anna Craft to offer the court's support on any grant proposals the schools may submit. However, Ward also said the court's budget is stretched very tight and it cannot supply the funds for an additional officer.

In other businesst:

•The court heard reports from Donna Boggs of Jenkins and actor David Tipton, who attended the Outdoor Drama Association's recent meeting in Cherokee N.C., representing the Little Shepherd Theater in Jenkins. Both Boggs and Tipton said they learned a great deal and received numerous tips from other presenters. Second District Magistrate Archie Banks encouraged them to continue to attend such functions and said the networking they can do is invaluable.

•Darlene and Alice Caudill, with Campbell's Branch Community Center, told the court that something should be done about the heat in the community center soon before pipes begin to freeze. Judge Ward said it looks like a natural gas connection will not be possible and other methods of heating the building will have to be examined. Magistrate Banks said it might be more efficient, considering the shape of the boiler at the center, to use unit heaters and just heat the necessary areas. Darlene Caudill also praised the Letcher County Rangers and said they have made all the difference in the world in the situation around the center. She said the Rangers are a blessing and that people using the center now feel safe, as drug activity around the center and parking lot has pretty much ceased.

•The court voted unanimously to purchase a new packer truck for the sanitation department, as well as scales and a building. A $350,000 grant from additional coal severance tax funds will pay for the purchases and Judge Ward said there should still be a small amount left over.

•The court voted to set the speed limit at Fantasy Drive, near Beaver Dam in Colson, at 10 miles per hour, as recommended by County Surveyor Richard Hall.

• The court opened bids for playground equipment for the Colson Community Center Park. Legacy Playground Equipment of Somerset made the only bid and the court voted unanimously to accept the bid of $25,800.

• The court voted to give Letcher County Parks and Recreation Director Derek Barto and County Reclamation Director Gary Cornett each a $5,000 annual raise. Magistrates lauded the work of each man and Judge Ward said that Barto's duties will be expanded to include directing the new recreation center and that Cornett has taken over running the Sanitation Department as well.

•The court voted unanimously to approve a resolution in support of the mining industry asking that the Nationwide Permit (NWP 21) used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for strip mining and mountaintop removal permits not be eliminated. The resolution stated that discontinuing the blanket permitting practice would be harmful to the mining industry and the county.

Bank balances for county agencies as of 10/15/2009:

•General Fund $179,192.68

•Road and Bridge Fund $1,636,831.48

•Jail Fund $267,889.20

•LGEA Fund $548,816.20

•Senior Citizens Fund $116,082.17

•Forestry Fund $5,642.12

•Letcher County Public Courthouse Corp. Funded Depreciation Reserve Account $475,879.63

•Letcher County Public Courthouse Corp. Debt Service Account $64,204.72

•Letcher County AML Fund (Zeroed out at the end of each month) 0.00

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