Whitesburg KY

City, county will team up for effort

The Fleming-Neon City Council has agreed to move forward with plans to connect trails around the city with an ATV trail system proposed by Letcher County.

Council members Lucky Cantrell and Tom Haynes visited Evarts after the council’s April meeting to see for themselves how the Harlan County trail has impacted the town. Police Chief Henry Day also spoke with Evarts city officials, and Cantrell brought back a copy of the ordinance Evarts passed to enable the trail riders to use their town.

The council decided at its June meeting to give the Evarts ordinance to City Attorney Jimmy Craft to modify it to suit the needs of Fleming-Neon.

Day told the council that Evarts and Neon share a similar situation with two state roads running through their respective towns, which can create problems for riders if they do not follow the letter of the law. He said that Kentucky State Police Troopers have written a number of tickets to riders in Evarts for infractions such riding on a state highway, no helmet, and no lights. Day said officials at Kentucky State Police Post Number 10 in Harlan have asked KSP headquarters in Frankfort to clarify the situation concerning riding on city streets in relationship to the enabling ordinance.

Day said state law allows riders to cross state highways to gain access to trails or to roads on the other side, but that the use of an ATV is otherwise forbidden by law on a state highway. He also said that while most riders have insurance on their all-terrain vehicles, it would be advisable for the city to require proof of insurance before allowing riders on city or county trails. Council member James D. Collins said state law requires riders to comply with all Kentucky traffic laws and to ride only during daylight hours.

Day said he and several council members have looked at a number of trailhead sites and found two that would connect into the county system. One site at the old Barlow Lake connects directly with the county system running from the tennis courts at Fishpond Lake and another at Number Two Hollow connects along an old strip mine road.

Letcher County Parks and Recreation Director Derek Barto attended the meeting and brought along a Global Positioning Satellite map showing the various possible entry points into the county system.

Barto said the county will work with the city in every way it can to make the trail system successful and pointed out that there are no restaurants or supply centers at the county trailhead at Fishpond Lake, which offers business opportunities to the city. He also told the council that state law requires ATV riders to have a valid license and that riders under 16 must get a special license.

Barto said a recent act by the Kentucky General Assembly allows landowners to be released from liability if their property is being used for recreational purposes. Several council members agreed to meet with Day and Barto later this week to look at possible trailhead sites and routes through the city that will keep riders off state highways.

In other business, Water Department Superintendent Carlos Phillips said water losses are down to 13 percent and the periodic rise and drop in loss of treated water remains a mystery to him. Phillips said no major leaks have been located and repaired and that as far as he knows no lines have been broken or repaired, yet the water losses have fluctuated by as much as 20 percent over the last year. He added that there have been no instances of stealing water since last year.

Phillips also told the council that District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming, who represents part of the city on the Letcher County Fiscal Court, informed him that the court has appropriated $100,000 to the city to replace an old and worn out sewer lift station located near the Marathon convenience store. Phillips said he has been told the county’s appropriation may not pay for the entire project, but can be used as matching funds for other grants.

Chief Day introduced new city police officer Ronnie Sloan to the council and said he has been working on several grants to upgrade weapons and body armor for the force. Day said one grant will pay 75 percent of the costs for a four-wheel drive vehicle and suggested if the council is willing to pursue the grant, a twin cab truck would be better for city purposes than a SUV. Mayor Susie Day gave the OK to pursue the grant and to look at vehicles, but no vote was taken as to actually making a purchase.

In other council matters:

• Mayor Polis asked for citizen participation in a River Sweep of the North Fork of the Kentucky River and its tributaries being sponsored by Childers Oil Co. of Whitesburg.

Polis said volunteers can meet at the Pine Mountain Grill in Whitesburg for breakfast at 7:30 a.m., on Saturday, June 20 and Childers Oil will sponsor a barbecue at the Grill after the sweep is completed.

Dump trucks and heavy equipment will be available to lift large objects such as vehicles out of the river and prizes will be given for the oddest things that are recovered.

• Tom Haynes told the council he had met with HOMES Inc. director Seth Long for a walkthrough evaluation of the old Hazen Building. Haynes said both agreed that the building should come down. He said several places appear in imminent danger of collapse and the city should have it torn down as soon as possible. Mayor Polis suggested that the site might be used as a city park with benches and places to sit and could be used for community gatherings as well.

• The council voted unanimously to approve the second reading of the $282,473 budget for Fiscal Year 2009-10.

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