Dog owners in Whitesburg have been put on notice that they will be held responsible for dog bites and other personal damage done by their free-running dogs. At the February meeting of the Whitesburg City Council, Police Chief Tyrone Fields told the council that due to two severe dog bites in recent weeks, the police department will no longer take the nice guy approach and will begin to cite owners whose dogs are running free in city limits.
Fields said charges will be filed in the biting incidents and that at least one took place on the walking track that runs from the free city parking lot to the Marathon gas station on the west end of town. Fields said a number of people come to town specifically to use the track and the city must ensure their safety.
“If you can’t keep your dog restrained, we will take action,” said Fields, adding that the department will work closely with shelter agents to see that unrestrained dogs are removed. “We have to make sure that dogs stay confined.”
Fields said the department has been as nice to dog owners as it can possibly be and letters have been sent warnings issued over unrestrained dogs and dogs that bark continually, but that the safety of citizens must come first. He said that the city has ordinances on the books that forbid free-roaming dogs and that names constantly barking dogs as a nuisance under the noise ordinance. Owners are responsible for their dogs and must be responsible for their behavior. He said it has come to the point that the city will fine people if they can’t control their animals.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to pass the second reading of the franchise ordinance with American Electric Power Kentucky Power. Greg Sparkman, representing the company, read the letter of agreement that specifies that AEP will assume up to 25 percent of the cost of the city’s street light bill as compensation for allowing the company to sell electricity. Mayor James Wiley Craft said the reason for that arrangement, rather than a direct payment to the city, was to prevent citizens from having an add-on to their power bills to compensate for the payment. He said that the street light arrangement will prevent an additional charge to citizens, and that he and the council wanted to keep citizens from paying the extra cost.
Mayor Craft also conducted the first reading of the ordinance to annex the property belonging to Jarisa Land Company LLC near Singing Water. The site is a development located across US 119 from the rental buildings beside the Ermine Dairy Bar. P.M. Hogg of Kona is the president of Jarisa Land Company.
Craft said that the waiting period has passed and no objection has been filed to the annexation. No vote was taken because this was the first reading. The second reading will be conducted at the next meeting of the city council, at which time a vote will be taken.
Nanette Banks, county extension agent for family and consumer services education, and Crystal Smith, county extension agent for 4-H, approached the council to ask permission to install a “story walk” at River Park.
Banks told the council that the story walk is financed through a grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control as part of its effort to combat obesity, and the addition of a story walk will make the track more pleasant for people walking for exercise. She said the CDC grant will run through the Letcher County Extension Office and will provide for 21 story stations in the park. She and Smith will have the story posts installed and they will maintain them. CDC has named Letcher County as one of the six most obese counties in Kentucky.
Mike Caudill, chief executive officer of Mountain Comprehensive Health Care, also approached the council to report that the Heritage 2K Car and Truck Show, which he and his son Lee Michael have put on for 16 years, needs to change the format. Caudill said that recent changes in and around the city have made it difficult to have enough space to put the show on as they have in the past. Caudill asked that they be allowed on hold the show on Main Street for one day only, on Saturday, September 9. He said there will only be activities on Saturday although he expects that participants will still come to town on Friday and stay through Sunday. The council voted unanimously to approve his request.
Councilman Mike Jackson also asked about the proposed annexation of that part of Solomon Road that is not in the city limits. Councilman Derek Barto, who is conducting a study to see how many of the residents outside the city limits would favor annexation, was not at the meeting, and Jackson asked the council to consider an alternative approach that would allow those outside city limits to pay a fee for fire and police protection. Mayor Craft said it would require a committee study and named Jackson, council member Robin Bowen-Watko, and Fire Chief Gary Mullins to serve on the committee.
Mayor Craft also reported that he has appointed Police Chief Tyrone Fields as Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner. Craft also referenced the recent announcement of a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for the stabilization and refurbishment of the old Daniel Boone Hotel. With the announcement of another sizable grant for the hotel expected soon, Craft said the city continues to seek additional funding to complete the work.