2017-10-11 / News

Whitesburg hopes hotel funds come soon

By WILLIAM FARLEY

Delays in the release of federal funding could endanger the already fragile structure of the old Daniel Boone Hotel in Whitesburg as coming winter weather could pose a threat to the building if measures cannot be taken to protect it soon.

At the October meeting of the Whitesburg City Council, hotel project architect Bill Richardson said that weather will be a factor soon if the building cannot be protected.

Angie Hall, grant administrator for the Kentucky River Area Development District, told the council that federal funds are notoriously slow in being released. She said the required environmental impact statement and formal request for the release of funds have been filed, and now wait the approval of the Appalachian Regional Commission, the federal agency that is providing the money through a Community Development Block Grant.

The city, through Richardson, is unable to hire engineers and contractors to begin the stabilization work until the ARC releases a portion of the $1 million grant it approved in March.

In other business, engineer Paul Nesbitt told the council that the city has been invited to submit a grant proposal with the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority that can be used to rehabilitate the city’s water and sewer system. Nesbitt said he and the city’s water maintenance director, Chris Caudill, have made a list of priorities that starts with upgrading city’s water treatment plant, and includes replacing the main water line running along the Whitesburg Hwy. 15 Bypass and rehabilitating the water tank at the Pine Mountain Lumber sawmill. Nesbitt said the rehabilitation of the sewer lift station is also on the list. He said the invitation to participate in the grant process is a very good sign the city would be successful in obtaining the funding.

Nesbitt said the now 14-year-old water plant is starting to wear out earlier than most plants.

The council also heard a proposal from representatives of the C.I. Thornburg Company for an automated meter reading system for the city water company. Caudill, the water maintenance director, said the city has about 1,350 residential meters at present and that about 500 of them are touch read meters, meaning they would not require added radios to be read. The other meters would have to be replaced at a cost of $135 for each meter and an additional $135 for the radio.

The representatives said the Letcher County Water and Sewer District uses the Thornburg automated meter reading system on all its meters and said it will save the city man-hours in meter reading as well as allowing water workers to target leaks much more exactly.

Mayor James Wiley Craft told the council that an Oktoberfest festival will be held in Whitesburg on October 21. It will run from noon until 8 p.m. and will center around the Letcher County Courthouse area. Craft praised his wife Tiffany Craft, Councilman Mike Jackson, and local restaurateur and attorney Tyler Ward for the long hours and hard work they have put into bringing the celebration together.

Jackson said that he has a number of bands lined up for the event, including local bands Back 2 Back, Sunrise Ridge bluegrass band, and Cross Country, as well as Hagel Bryant and the Allegheny Swarpers, and Brooklyn Collins and Random Rock Radio. Craft said that city streets will be blocked off and that food and other vendors will be on hand.

Jackson said the Oktoberfest has its own Facebook page that will include a schedule of events. Craft said the city’s website, cow.org, is also now up and running.

Craft also told the council that the final hurdles have been cleared to have the old Ballard Clay Service Station building demolished. Craft said the building, located near the Old Pine Mountain Junction near the Whitesburg VFW, is dangerous and is falling down. He said contractor Greg Hale has offered to undertake demolition and removal of the building for $5,000.

The council approved Craft’s demolition request and authorized him to enter into a contract with Greg Hale LLC.

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