The Whitesburg City Council spent much of its September meeting addressing water and sewer issues, including the discussion of ways to alleviate odor problems that continue to plague the Maple Street area in West Whitesburg.
Mayor James Wiley Craft joined several others in asking whether the odor is coming from a new sewage treatment plant in nearby Caudilltown.
The questions were directed to Kevin Howard of Summit Engineering, the Pike County firm which worked with the city in financing and building the new Whitesburg Wastewater Plant, which is located below Pine Mountain Lumber’s sawmill operation.
Howard said the odors are the result of a sewer line extension to the area around the Parkway Motel. Howard said the “low flow” causing the current problem should be fixed when the sewer line is extended on to the area around Dry Fork Market. Veolia Water representative Todd Adams agreed with Howard and said that until the lines are extended, Veolia workers will keep them flushed with the city’s new “jetter” and make every effort to keep the odors down to a minimum.
Adams also asked the council to allow him to look into installing a Purafil air filtration system to help with the odor problem until more customers are added and the flow is increased. Adams said the Purafil system will do a better job of keeping odors down than another chemical system that was previously explored, and for about half the cost. The council voted to allow Adams to proceed after Mayor Craft said something had to do something to control the odor.
“What I want to know is what is being done?” said Craft. “I’ve dealt with this all summer. The people who live in this town are entitled to be able to go outside without getting down on bad air. This has to be solved.”
Howard also asked the council to OK a water line improvement that will enable the city to supply water to the new Letcher County Recreation Center being constructed on Solomon Road. Howard told the council that upgrading the line will not only allow enough water pressure to service the center’s needs, it will also drastically improve water service to residents of Solomon Road. The council voted unanimously to authorize the advertisement for bids for the work.
Howard also presented a progress report on the upgrade to the Nursing Home sewage lift station and said work is almost complete except for building an access road and cleaning the area up. He said the city also needs to rehabilitate lift stations near Walmart and Childers Oil. The council voted to authorize Summitt Engineering to proceed with design work and to allow Mayor Craft to negotiate a contract with H2O Construction for the work.
Abby Jones of Nesbitt Engineering reported on negotiations with the Kentucky Public Service Commission for a rate increase for water sold to the Letcher County Water and Sewer District. Jones also told the council that funding for improvements to the Whitesburg Water Treatment Plant has been placed in the federal budget. She said the line item funding has survived so far and hopes it makes it through the process unscathed.
Jones also delivered a surprise to the council by telling them Nesbitt Engineering is pursuing funding to design and construct a theme-based miniature golf course to be located within city limits. Mayor Craft then told the council he had asked Nesbitt to look into the possibility of a “putt putt” golf course, which he said would probably have a coal mining theme, as a tourist attraction.
Craft told council members he is open to their suggestions for entertainment and recreation projects to bolster the city’s tourism economy, and council member Robin Bowen Watco suggested a water park. Jones told the council Nesbitt is working with several cities on splash parks and invited council members to a meeting she has scheduled on the subject. Craft said a water park could be developed in conjunction with a golf course as a tourist attraction.
Jones also told the council that a $50,000 planning grant was awarded to the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises to develop a plan for rehabilitating the Daniel Boone Hotel in Whitesburg. Jones said the planning grant represents a major step toward obtaining money for the rehab project.