2017-11-08 / Front Page

Citizens urged to be on lookout for drug dangers


In the past few years, Letcher and other counties in eastern Kentucky have made positive efforts to combat the drug epidemic that has laid waste to much of central Appalachia and adjacent areas that are hit hard by the decline in industrial jobs. One of the efforts Letcher County has adopted is to support a needle exchange program to supply clean needles to addicts in exchange for used ones in an effort to stem the increase in needle-borne disease.

At Monday’s meeting of the Jenkins

City Council, Rebecca Amburgey, a council member and administrator at Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation’s Whitesburg Medical Clinic, issued a warning that illustrates how difficult it is to keep dirty needles out of public areas, parks, playgrounds, parking lots, etc. Amburgey told the council that she has recently participated in discussions that pointed out that with the holidays approaching and visitors “coming home” to the mountains, some of those visitors will no doubt be drug addicts bring- ing their needles home with them. Amburgey said that efforts to keep dirty needles out of public areas may need to be increased and that everybody should be more vigilant in places where children congregate.

“Some people coming home to visit will bring dirty needles with them,” said Amburgey, adding that they also bring sexually transmitted diseases and other diseases that can be spread by using dirty needles. “It’s something to think about. We don’t want any more dirty needles.”

In a related matter, Jenkins Police Chief Jim Stephens told the council that arrests for the highly-addictive stimulant methamphetamine are up slightly in the Jenkins area. Stephens also said Jenkins officers will be supplied with the antioverdose drug Narcan and be trained to administer in cases involving overdoses of heroin and other opioids such as oxycodone. He said the Narcan and training are supplied through MCHC and Dr. Van Breeding, and that Narcan will only be administered if officers believe they can do it safely.

The Jenkins Police Department responded to 85 complaints in October and wrote two citations and issued 62 warnings. Six arrests were made, including one drug-related arrest for methamphetamine. Two complaints were issued for domestic violence, and four responses were from accidents, two for injury accidents and two for non-injury accidents. Three summonses were served and the department made two motorist assists. Stephens also thanked the Jenkins Festival Committee for the success of the Halloween Safe Night. Mayor Todd Depriest joined Stephens in praising the committee and added that at least 620 treat bags were given out that evening in the city park.

Depriest also said he had met with University of Kentucky development specialists working through the University of Kentucky Community and Economic Development Initiatives in Kentucky (CEDIK) last week to discuss possibilities for economic development in Jenkins. CEDIK is a project of the UK Department of Agriculture Food and Environment and focuses on using research and expertise to develop the economic capacity of communities in the state. CEDIC programs include Community Strategic Planning, Community Design, Economic Development Strategies, and a Healthcare Leadership Program. Streetscape and Trail Development as well as Community Walkability programs figure in these projects.

According to the CEDIC Interactive Project Map (https://cedik.ca.uky.edu/ project_ map), Community Health Needs Assessment Programs and Grow Kentucky Economic Gardening programs are underway in Letcher County. Both programs are also underway in Harlan County too, as well as Strategic Planning and Community Design programs. CEDIK provides assistance in writing grant proposals and performing economic research. Depriest said that some funding may be available through CEDIK in the form of seed money and grants, and that UK architectural students may work with communities on design projects.

Angie Mullins of Kentucky River Area Development District added that a downtown rural development meeting will be held at KRADD offices in Hazard on November 30, and UK staff and personnel will attend. She said Letcher County is on the agenda for the “community showcase,’ and the purpose is to help provide local leadership and development tools.

Depriest reported that the sidewalk project, to extend the sidewalk from the Jenkins football field to the middle high school, has still not been given final approval. He said he has learned that several other sidewalk projects in other small communities are experiencing similar issues with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Depriest added that a grant proposal has been submitted to Abandoned Mine Lands to dredge Elkhorn Lake in Jenkins. Dredging will increase water capacity and get rid of the lily pads. The proposal includes resurfacing the dam and work on the rear side of the proposed lake walk infrastructure.

The Jenkins/Fleming- Neon Water Interconnect was turned on Monday afternoon for the first time to provide water from the City of Jenkins to support the City of Fleming-Neon in a water emergency. Depriest told the council there is a shortage in the Fleming- Neon water supply and the city will sell water to the Fleming-Neon water system through a master meter at Haymond.

The council accepted bids for two pieces of Blighted and Neglected property the city had condemned and cleaned up. Dustin Laughary placed a nonspecific for between $1,500 and $4,000 for the lot in East Jenkins where the old Fleming Electric building sat. City Attorney Randall Tackett said the bid doesn’t conform to the advertisement, but the city can accept the high bid of $4,000 and notify the bidder, who will have the option of accepting it or withdrawing. Everett Kelly placed a $500 bid for a second lot on Number Four Hill, which Depriest described as a small parcel that had been part of a larger lot. The council voted to accept both bids. Council members also voted to lease a small section of the old Flower House Building to City Clerk Chasity Johnson Phipps to be used as a gift shop.

Mayor Depriest reported that work on the Save-a-Lot Grocery is moving along and that workers have been laying the flooring and concrete block.

Depriest also announced that the city’s annual Christmas Parade will be held on the first Saturday of December (December 2). Parade participants will begin will begin lining up at 3 p.m., and the parade will start at 4 p.m. The Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department will provide refreshments. Mayor Depriest said that the JVFD will use its share of the proceeds from the Halloween Haunted House to provide Christmas gifts for needy children as well. That event was a joint effort of the Jenkins and Mayking fire departments.

The council voted to approve a roadblock for the Jenkins High School girls’ basketball team earlier on December 2.

In other business, the council learned that the city water plant produced 11,238,000 gallons in October and sold 9,705,000 gallons, for a difference of 1,533,000 gallons. Of that amount, the fire department used 25,000 gallons, leaving an unaccounted loss of 1,508,000 gallons, or 13 percent.

Return to top