Fifty-one new jobs came to Jenkins during the last month, Mayor Todd Depriest told the city council.
In a report to the council at its June meeting Monday night, Depriest spoke about the ribbon cutting ceremony held last month for the Hunt Brothers Pizza distribution terminal held at the Gateway Industrial Park. He also said that since Reliance Well Services took over the old BJ Services property, the company has hired 16 people who had previously worked for BJ and that between Hunt Brothers, Reliance, and the newly opened Pine Grill at Raven Rock Golf Course, 51 new jobs have been created in Jenkins.
In other business at this week’s meeting, the arrests of two city employees in Jenkins just prior to the May 22 primary election left Jenkins citizens with a number of questions about drug enforcement polices for city employees. In response to a question from Council Member Toni Jenkins, Depriest said the city has strict policies in place for drug testing and that, by law, drug testing has to be done for cause and cannot be done on a regular basis.
Depriest said that municipalities do not have the same power to drug test employees as private employers. City employees have to be dealt with according to state guidelines. Depriest said if an employee meets the standard for drug testing a test will be administered. He added the vacancies caused by the arrests at the water plant have been filled by licensed and qualified personnel.
The council also addressed what is becoming an annual warm weather problem — the misuse of all-terrain vehicles in town. Depriest said that people need to understand that the city’s designation as an “ATV friendly community” does not mean that laws regulating the devices will not be enforced. He added it is just a few people who don’t obey the law and endanger the public with their behavior. But he said it does pose a significant problem.
Depriest said the original intent of the city’s ordinance to allow ATVs to use city streets was not to override Kentucky laws that regulate them on state roads, but to allow ATV riders using local trails to come into town to purchase supplies and get fuel. He added that most of the people who are breaking laws are local people who sometimes flee into the woods if police try to apprehend them. Depriest said the city will enforce the law.
Council Member Rebecca Amburgey suggested a public meeting where ATV riders and the parents of younger riders can be educated on state and city laws regulating ATVs. Councilman Rick Damron said state laws are pretty strict and added that he felt it would be a good idea to make the public aware of the regulations as well.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve the second reading of the Fiscal Year 2018- 19 city budget. Finance Officer Robin Kincer said the budget was amended to accommodate a of cost reduction of $4,800 for employee insurance, slightly less than what had been anticipated. The budget now stands at $2,066,324.
A sizable contingent of people from Dunham attended the meeting to complain about the location of the stop sign across the street from the Regular Baptist Church in Dunham.
Dunham resident Paul Fleming served as spokesman for the group and brought a petition asking for the sign’s removal, which he said was signed by 75 Dunham residents. Amburgey told Fleming that the council had received a number of requests for the stop sign a few years back, but Fleming said most of the requests had come from one man who has since died and added that a large bush and tree which had impeded vision on the crossing has since been removed. Fleming said the sign should not be on main road, but should be on the roads that enter it.
Depriest said the city has no objection to changing the sign, but he would like to bring it up with state highway officials at a regional transportation meeting he will attend later this week. Damron said the sign is the result of a previous council vote and the council will have to examine the matter before changing it. He added that if the sign is moved, a yield sign may be sufficient to replace it.
Dunham resident Albert Johnson told the council he always stops at the sign, but that a number of people just ignore it and go around him if he is stopped. Johnson added that there have been a number of wrecks at the site. Depriest said that regardless of placement, the sign represents the law and should be obeyed until the matter can be decided.
Many in the crowd wanted an immediate decision, but the council as a group wanted to look at the area and make a decision after getting more information. Councilman Mike Dingus, who is Chief of Police in Fleming-Neon, said that public safety is the purpose of road signs.
“Do you want to be safe?” asked Dingus. “That was the intent (of the sign), to minimize accidents.”
Depriest asked for a motion to table the matter until the July meeting and the council voted unanimously to do so.
David Back of Brickyard Hill also voiced a concern about renters in his neighborhood who do not take care of their yards or pick their garbage up. Back said that the garbage poses problems for neighbors who attempt to keep their yards clean because it blows around and gets in other people’s yards. He said he would like to see increased enforcement and a possible fine to the landowners who rent to the culprits.
Councilman Damron told Back there is an ordinance in place which gives the city broad powers to deal with garbage problems and Depriest asked Police Chief Josh Richardson to look into the matter. He said that with new residents moving into the area for the federal prison at Roxana and other reasons, it is important that Jenkins be kept clean to attract new families.
The council also voted to declare the Taylor property in Mudtown surplus and to sell it in a private sale for $5,000. Depriest told the council the city had received an offer for the property that was probably higher than it could have gotten if it had advertised it for sale by bid or auction.
Depriest also announced the city has hired former Letcher County Sheriff ’s Deputy Jared Hipps to replace Officer Mike Garner, who has moved to Virginia to be closer to his family. He said Hipps is qualified and has completed his academy training.