Governor Steve Beshear will be in Letcher County next week to take part in a ceremony to announce Ferus Inc.’s decision to build a nitrogen liquefaction plant on the Gateway Industrial Park near Jenkins.
Beshear and other state and local officials will join Ferus President and CEO Richard Brown for a celebration scheduled to be held June 23 at 2 p.m. at the Jenkins City Park, said Letcher County Economic Development Director Joe DePriest. DePriest made the announcement Monday night during a special meeting of the Jenkins City Council.
The Jenkins council was told earlier this spring that Ferus, which is based in Canada, was planning to build a facility here that will produce liquid nitrogen by separating it from the atmosphere through compression and cooling. The nitrogen produced at the Jenkins plant will supply the natural gas industry, which uses nitrogen during the process of fracturing gas-bearing rock strata.
Construction of the estimated $30 million plant is expected to take up to two years to finish. The facility is expected to provide as many as 80 high paying jobs with good benefits once it is finished.
DePriest told the council that lunch will be provided at the offi cial announcement, as well as infl atables and soft drinks for children. DePriest said the county is looking for a “big day” to celebrate the new facility.
Mayor Charles Dixon said the public is invited to the event and asked that Jenkins citizens take special care to keep the city clean. Dixon said he hopes citizens will volunteer to help city workers make sure the town is in shape for the event.
“We want the city to really look nice and clean,” said Dixon. “This is a red letter day for Jenkins.”
DePriest said an environmental consulting firm from Frankfort is already on-site doing some of the early preparation for the plant.
In other business at the council meeting, Allison Brown of LKLP announced that as many as 3,100 temporary jobs for younger workers will be funded by the federal TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families) grant that will pay for regional businesses to hire workers at their entry level wage rather than the minimum wage.
Brown said the program will focus on single workers between 18 and 24 and on workers more than 18 with dependants. She said LKLP, acting as fiscal agent for the grant, will pay the workers’ salaries and workers’ compensation insurance, and that workers will work between 25 and 40 hours a week. The summer program will run through September 18. Interested parties may apply at the LKLP Community Action Council office in Whitesburg or call 633-4458.
The council also voted unanimously to pass the second reading of the city’s 2010-2011 operating budget. The budget calls for expenditures of $3,321,406 against revenues of $3,321,408, with a tidy surplus of $2.00.
City Finance Officer Robin Kincer attended the meeting to explain several aspects of the budget, including planning for expenditures on keeping city streetlights on. Kincer told the council that while she was working on that portion of the budget, a representative of Kentucky Power Company told her to expect a 20 percent rate hike. Kincer said she questioned the woman, asking her if rate hikes weren’t supposed to be approved by the public service commission first. She said the Kentucky Power representative assured her that the 20 percent rate hike would be implemented, leaving some in the audience to wonder if the Kentucky Public Service Commission will actually just rubber-stamp the power company’s continuing request for a large rate increase.
Kincer said she questioned the woman further and was told that municipal rates might be hiked further to make up for lower rates for residential customers which was met by a snort of derision from council member Rebecca Terrill-Amburgy who questioned if AEP ever gave residential customers a break.
The council also learned this week that water loss rate for May was still high, with 9,501,000 gallons potentially lost, or 68 percent. The city produced 13,968,000 and sold 4,467,000. A loss of 4,650,000 gallons was accounted for from various uses throughout the city including 1,502,000 at the Burdine Wastewater Treatment Plant and 2,232,000 gallons in known losses to line breaks. 4,851,000 gallons or 35 percent were lost for reasons that are unaccounted for.
Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, who works with the city on water and sewer issues, told the council that the Camden Water Line Project is now complete. Nesbitt said the contractors would turn off all the water going into old lines that are identified and connect to the new lines on Tuesday. Nesbitt said his company and the contractors have worked to identify every old water line to make sure no more treated water is wasted by running it into lines that essentially go nowhere. The project has been funded by Abandoned Mine Lands at no cost to the city.
Nesbitt told the council that the Number Two Bottom Sewer Project is about 50 percent complete and asked the council to approve a change order to allow for an additional 60 days that were lost due to problems getting an easement approved. Nesbitt said the request was a valid one and the council approved it unanimously. The Number Two Bottom project is also funded by AML at no cost to the city.
Bids on Phase I of the long awaited Jenkins Water Line Replacement Project will be opened on June 23 and Nesbitt said that ten bidders have requested packets. He said the bids that have been received so far have been very good price-wise and that several funders will have to approve the fi- nal bid before construction begins. He estimated taking bids on Phase II of the line replacement project about the time construction on Phase I is complete. City Attorney Randall Tackett said several easements are not final for Phase II and expressed concern over one with Premier Elkhorn Coal (TECO).
Nesbitt also presented copies of a study conducted by his firm on Elkhorn Lake and the dam. He said the broad based study will allow for more funding opportunities and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is interested in funding alternative water sources for the city while the work on the lake and dam is underway. Mayor Dixon told Nesbitt to make sure to send copies to all Kentucky’s national congressional representatives, particularly to Fifth District U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers. Dixon expressed dismay that the city was living with the potential threat of the dam failing and has received no attention from Rogers or other federal elected figures.
In other council business:
• In the Mayor’s Report, Dixon said the city will aggressively pursue delinquent taxes and utility bills and that they might begin to publish names of delinquents in The Mountain Eagle
as well as going after them in court proceedings.
• Police Chief Adam Swindall reported citing several businesses that haven’t purchased business licenses and said the Jenkins Police Department will continue to issue tickets for no city sticker. Swindall said criminal activity is up in May, a condition he said usually occurs in warmer months. Officers responded to 171 complaints in May and made 12 arrests. Five arrests were related to warrants and two were for domestic violence. Jenkins Police Officers also responded to six vehicle accidents of which two involved injury.
• Fire Chief Rick Corbett reported responding to approximately 20 calls, most of which were structure fires or EMT runs. Corbett said city fire hydrants need attention from city workers. He said he has inspected a number of hydrants and some need repairs. He said when the insurance ratings inspectors look at the city for their ISO ratings, they look at the city water department as well as the fire department. The current ISO rating for Jenkins is five. In unincorporated areas outside the city, it is nine.
• The council tentatively voted to accept a $263,290 bid from M3 Fire Apparatus LLC for a 2010 Silver Fox fire truck. Formal acceptance of the bid hinges on a $50,000 trade in on an old truck and on payments being structured to fit into the current fire department budget.
• The council voted unanimously to proceed with implementing parking only on the north side of the street in Number Two Bottom. Council member Chuck Anderson said that with the current arrangement of parking on both sides of the street, emergency vehicles often can’t get through the neighborhood.
• Mayor Dixon honored Sarah Dunlap as an Unsung Hero for her work with the Beautification Committee and for volunteering in other areas of city life a swell. Dixon said that Dunlap, who returned to Jenkins six years ago after a long absence, has become an integral part of city life and added that people often say if you want anything done, you contact Sarah Dunlap.