Along with local businesses and other organizations, the City of Whitesburg will participate with Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation to develop a “community kitchen” as part of MCHC’s Community Agricultural and Nutritional Enterprise.
The kitchen, which will be located in the old Whitesburg High School cafeteria/library building, will provide between six and eight jobs and will do some home delivery of meals to senior citizens and others unable to come to the kitchen. It will also provide meals on-site for seniors and other needy people. The Whitesburg City Council voted unanimously to participate at its January meeting Tuesday night.
Councilman Mike Jackson, who works at MCHC, told the council the project will use locally grown produce and other products at the kitchen and will hold nutritional cooking classes. Classes will also be provided for local growers in creating value added products such as jams and jellies from their produce. Jackson said Valerie Horn, who is in charge of Whiteburg’s Farmer’s Market, will direct the project.
Mayor James Wiley Craft said MCHC had requested funding for the project in the amount of $5,000, but that MCHC CEO Mike Caudill told him the city would not need to pay the entire amount at one time, so the city could make gradual donations.
In other business, the council appointed three new member to the city’s Ethics Board to satisfy a recent finding by the Kentucky State Auditor’s Office in a special audit that was critical of some of the city’s management practices, particularly its method of collecting a large number of overdue water bills. Mayor Craft told the council the city would be required to have a functioning Ethics Board and presented the council with five names. The council voted unanimously to reconstitute the city’s Ethics Board and to approve the members suggested by Craft.
Craft said that it had been difficult to locate some of the existing members, because they had moved away, but two of the current members, Waughletia Little and Laura Whitaker have agreed to continue serving. The new members are John Cunniff, Scott Frazier, and Bobby D. Fisher.
In other business, the council heard a report from Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill, who appeared at the meeting fresh from working overtime to repair city water lines. Caudill said city workers have found a major leak under a wall on the road running behind City Hall, between City Hall and the old Whitesburg High School. The leak is between the old Science and English buildings. Caudill said the wall is over ten feet high and the line is several feet deep, and he asked the council’s permission to contract with Greg Hale LLC to do the excavation work on the line.
Caudill said Hale has the equipment necessary to do the work safely and that the city would be better served having the work done professionally and safely. The council voted unanimously to approve his request.
Caudill also told the council that lines breaks and other maintenance issues caused partly by the long spell of freezing weather had depleted some of the city’s repair parts and asked permission to replenish them. The council voted unanimously in favor of his request.
Mayor Craft reported that Caudill had been forced to put a fire hydrant on Texas Avenue into service to supply water to several residents there because one line was frozen solid. Caudill also said that one sewer line had also been frozen solid, which was something he had never seen before. He said the long stretch of sub-freezing temperatures have placed a good deal more stress on city lines that ordinary cold weather, when temperatures move above and below freezing. He added that Whitesburg is still doing better than many neighboring localities, and 99 percent of the residents have water.
Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, which is working with the city on water and other issues, reported that his firm is continuing to seek funding for city water and sewer projects, and said the city needs to make sure they keep projects on Kentucky Infrastructure Authority’s list for funding. He said at least one project is on the list now and the city is in a good position to add others, in part due to cold weather-related problems. Mayor Craft accepted an offered package from the Department of Local Government at last month’s meeting for replacing water lines and rebuilding a water tank, as well as refurbishing the city water treatment plant
Roger Day (President) and Anthony Cornett (Treasurer) of the Mountain Shrine Club approached the council to ask for permission to hold fund raising roadblocks for the Shriners’ Hospital. The proposed dates and locations are at the Rite- Aid red light in Whitesburg on March 31, at the red light at Pizza Hurt and McDonald’s on May 5, and at the light at Letcher Central High School at Ermine on October 3. The council voted unanimously to approve the requests.