Whitesburg KY
Mostly clear
Mostly clear

City to revisit distillery plan

The Whitesburg City Council will meet in special session next week to get citizen input on the possibility of allowing the old KYVA Motor Company building to be used for a distillery for legal moonshine.

Mayor James Wiley Craft told the council at its November meeting Tuesday night that he had received a request from businessman Colin Fultz to revisit his agreement with the city concerning the historic building at 128 Main Street. Craft said he believes that everyone who has an interest in the matter be given the opportunity to speak. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Whitesburg City Hall.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve a resolution to allow Appalachian Regional Healthcare to issue $10 million in health care bonds through the city’s bonding capacity. Charles Musson of Rubin and Hays Law Firm of Louisville told the council that by using the city as the issuing agent, the ARH chain would be able to issue the bonds at a considerably lower interest rate. Musson said that by approving the issue, the city is in no way liable for the bonds and will not be responsible for them in any way.

Musson said that ordinarily, the not-for-profit chain would have gone through the City of Hazard, but that city recently issued bonds for property acquisition for the Hazard hospital. Musson explained that each year, municipalities are able to issue up to $10 million in bonds, and Whitesburg has a clean slate for the year. Mayor Craft, who is also a longtime practicing attorney, pressed Musson for his assurance that Whitesburg will not incur any debt or responsibility. Musson assured him that the city will not, and said it will be clearly spelled out in the terms of the hospital chain’s agreement.

“We stepped into a problem about 10 years ago,” said Craft. “I want to make double sure that doesn’t happen again.”

“There will be no liability to the city in any way, shape or form,” said Musson.

Craft said he is a board member of the Kentucky League of Cities and was also assured by that group that the city will have no obligation. Still, Craft asked about several particular instances including bankruptcy. Musson said that in no instance would the city be liable.

The council voted unanimously to approve the bond issue.

Musson told the council the $10 million will go to buy new equipment throughout the chain, and that Whitesburg ARH will get the second-highest allotment of funding for new equipment. Whitesburg ARH Community CEO Dena Sparkman told the council the local hospital will get equipment upgrades in the form of scopes that will support the surgery department as well as upgrades to cardiac equipment.

In other business, the council also agreed to continue its ongoing relationship with Whitesburg Bike Nite. Donna Sue Halcomb asked the council to continue to support the Bike Nite, which has been praised by county officials and the Letcher County Tourism Commission for bringing tourists to the area and raising the profile of the community. Dates for 2015 Bike Nite are: April 11, May 9, June 13, July 11, August 8, September 12, and October 10.

Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill reported on several maintenance issues at the city water plant and wastewater treatment plant, and told the council the waterline at Ermine is still holding together. Mayor Craft announced that the city has acquired the necessary funding to bore under the Kentucky River to install a new line. He added that the new line would be eight inches in diameter rather than six inches.

Engineer Paul Nesbitt explained that the type of line used in the bore machine is different and that an eight-inch line is closer to six inches in diameter in regular PVC line. Caudill said the cost of the bore would be $33,000. Craft asked him to arrange with the contractor, H20, to do the bore during the Thanksgiving holiday period to minimize disruption of classes at Letcher Central High School. Craft also said that no bid is required because a state of emergency has already been issued concerning the situation.

The council also voted unanimously to continue the practice of issuing a gift card for the purchase of a turkey or ham for Christmas to every city employee as well as members of the Whitesburg Volunteer Fire Department.

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