Two buildings that have been a big part of Whitesburg’s past and could figure prominently in the city’s future have gotten mixed grades in structural evaluations conducted recently by engineers.
Mike Meehan of Nesbitt Engineering told the Whitesburg City Council that the old Daniel Boone Hotel building will need a lot of work before it can be used in any of the several capacities that Mayor James Wiley Craft has said he would like to see after the building is redone.
On the plus side, Meehan told the council that the old Whitesburg High School campus is immaculate and has been well kept since it was vacated, including the heating and air conditioning being left on so it wouldn’t be adversely affected by weather and temperature. Meehan said the facility has been kept up “totally” since the new Letcher County Central High School opened, and rated it as A-. He added that the building has lots of space and square footage and could easily be transformed into an assisted living center as Craft mentioned earlier in the year.
Meehan also said the high school gymnasium is in good shape and could serve as a community center. Mayor Craft told Meehan to have Nesbitt’s grant staff go ahead and start looking for funding and added that he believes there is federal money available now for assisted living facilities. Meehan said Nesbitt is also looking for funding to expand the city water plant as well.
In other business, the council learned that the pumps and control panel for replacing the pumps at the nursing home lift station had been shipped and work will begin soon on the pump station which has given the city trouble for several years and burned out a number of pumps from grease and foreign objects jamming the pumps until they finally required replacing. Kevin Howard of Summit Engineering told the council the work should be underway by April 1.
Howard told the council the installation of the carbon filtration system for the City Water Plant is now complete and said as soon as the contractors conduct a final inspection, it will be under warranty. Howard told the council that while it didn’t need to take any further action on the filtration system, there were unspent funds left and asked it to authorize the mayor to use them to construct a fence around the sediment basins at the city water plant. The council voted unanimously to allow for the fence construction.
Veolia employee Chris Caudill presented the Veolia Water report in the absence of manager Todd Adams and told the council that work on improving water pressure for Solomon residents could begin as soon as an easement negotiation is complete. In response to a question from a Solomon resident, Caudill said city water customers on Solomon should have at least 30 pounds per square inch pressure when the pump station is online and may have up to 40 pounds PSI. Mayor Craft added that the city has done as much as it can do on the project and now is waiting for the easement to go through.
“We bought the pipe and pumps when we started the project,” said Craft. “We just need the easement.”
The council also voted to designate two additional handicap parking spaces in the city, one in front of Summit City Coff ee and the second in front of the Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library on Main Street. Craft said a handicap space in front of the Letcher County Courthouse is routinely blocked by the same vehicle and when there are alternative spots he will ask Whitesburg police officers to enforce handicap parking more stringently.
In the Mayor’s report, Mayor Craft urged citizens to complete 2010 Census Forms and to return them to the proper place. Craft said the Census Forms have 10 questions and none are personal. He said the city needs to have every citizen recognized in population totals for funding and other grant purposes as well as for representation on the state and federal level. Council member Freda Mc- Call said the city gets about $2,000 per year in federal funding for each person that lives within city limits.
Craft also announced that April 10 is Clean-Up Day in Whitesburg and April is PRIDE Clean-Up Month. He asked for volunteers to help council members and others to clean up around the city and said that everyone should meet at City Hall at 11 a.m. on April 10. Craft said the city will get $2,000 from PRIDE for participating. Craft also said the city will get 300 redbud trees from PRIDE with plans to have them in the ground by April 15.
In his closing, Craft announced the opening of two new businesses in the city — The Looking Glass Beauty Salon on Main Street in the old Holstein Hardware building and Fugate Chiropractic in the old Fields Hardware/Dr. Rick Collins building between the Letcher County Courthouse and Letcher Funeral Home. Craft said the city has received some other inquiries about vacant property in the city for business purposes and added that he hopes the city will be a “thriving metropolis” soon.
Sam Adams, who is working with the city on revitalizing its Historical District and the old Daniel Boone Hotel, added that Annie’s Frugal Finery will soon open on Bentley Avenue, to which Craft happily replied, “three new businesses in a month.”