Whitesburg KY

Council changes mind

With Mayor James Wiley Craft voting to break a rare tie vote, the Whitesburg City Council reversed an earlier decision and will repay the estate of Opal Strange for costs associated with repairs and cleanup from a backed up sewer line.

The council had voted at its July meeting not to repay the approximate $2,900 because Veolia Water had conducted smoke tests in the neighborhood to determine if pipes were hooked illegally into the city wastewater system. Craft said he and City Clerk Garnett Sexton had since examined Veolia’s records closely and while Mrs. Strange had paid to have her drain spouts disconnected from the wastewater system, it was unclear as to whether she had been informed that her basement drain was connected as well.

Council member John Williams made the motion to reverse the decision, with the warning that it was not intended to set a precedent, and Freda McFall seconded. Newly appointed council member Larry Everidge joined them in voting to reverse, with Jimmy Bates, Robin Watco, and Sheila Short voting no. Craft broke the tie with an affirmative vote.

“John made it clear he did not intend to set a precedent,” said Craft. “It won’t as long as I’m in this chair.”

Craft also told family members attending the meeting he did not approve of remarks made during the council’s August meeting by one of Mrs. Strange’s daughters, Tilitha Sperger, when she said, “You helped cause my mother to die,” in reference to the sewer backup. Mrs. Sperger and other family members said the smell had driven Mrs. Strange from her home shortly before her death.

In other business, Jim Wade of Nesbitt Engineering told the council the new pedestrian bridge is complete and blocks will be placed at the entrances to keep people from driving onto either side. Mayor Craft praised Nesbitt’s work and that of the contractor as well. Craft told the council the dedication for the bridge, which will be named for council member James Bates, will be held September 23 at noon. He said a plaque is being prepared for each end of the bridge with Bates and the rest of the council listed on it. He added that the new Letcher County Health Department will be dedicated at 2 p.m. that afternoon.

Also, Craft asked for volunteer workers for the RAM free medical, vision, and dental clinic being held at Jenkins September 25 and 27.

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