Whitesburg KY

Duck and geese feeders face $50 fine if caught in Jenkins

Signs asking visitors to Elkhorn Lake in Jenkins to refrain from feeding waterfowl now carry more than just a warning.

The Jenkins City Council voted unanimously at its August meeting to approve the second reading of an ordinance which prohibits feeding waterfowl around the lake and establishes a citation for the first offense with fines of as much as $50 for subsequent offenses.

City Attorney Randall Tackett conducted the first reading of the ordinance at a special called meeting on August 5. The ordinance states that nuisance and health and safety concerns created the need for measures to disperse the migratory Canadian geese, which officials say are at the center of the problem.

The geese are large birds and eat a great deal. Their feces coats sidewalks, city streets, and gets into Elkhorn Lake, which is the city’s water source. The amount of feces in the lake causes the city to have to use more chemicals to purify drinking water.

The ordinance states that the best way to eliminate the problem is to simply stop feeding the birds, which should return the Canadian geese to their usual migratory patterns. At the council’s July meeting, Mayor Charles Dixon said he had spoken with state Fish and Wildlife personnel who told him that as long as the geese were being fed they would not leave the area. The ordinance includes geese, ducks, and pigeons and applies to property within 500 feet of the lake.

City Attorney Tackett said the city’s responsibility to protect its citizens’ health and safety overrides the private property concerns of people feeding the birds on their own property. The ordinance applies to all children and adults. While children will not be cited, the responsible adult accompanying them will be. The first citation will be considered a warning but the second and subsequent violations can carry a fine of up to $50 at the discretion of the arresting officer.

The council also voted at the called meeting to allow Mayor Dixon and City Attorney Tackett to negotiate a lease with Pikeville Medical Center for the city’s office space next to the Flower House on Main Street. The space has held physicians’ offices in the past and Tackett said Pikeville Medical plans to open a medical office staffed with a physician and nurses in the space. Pikeville Medical will pay the city $837 per month.

Council member Becky Terrill said the need for a medical center is great since Wellmont closed the Jenkins Clinic and left the city with an empty hospital. She said that although Whitesburg ARH has a clinic there, there are no emergency room services.

Roger Profitt, representing EQT (formerly Equitable Resources) told the council Monday that EQT has authorized a special $6,400 donation to the city for its general fund. He said the council is welcome to use the money to inspect water tanks near EQT’s drill site behind the IGA Store in Jenkins, but the money is theirs to spend as they wish.

Profitt, who lives in Jenkins, also presented the city with an additional $2,500 from EQT to be used specifically for the Jenkins Homecoming Festival. Council members Terrill and Carol Anne Litts, who also serve on the festival committee, expressed their thanks to Profitt and EQT and said the money is much needed.

“You don’t know how many hamburgers that is,” said Litts, referring to food booths set up by various local non-profit groups.

The council also voted to consider the possibility of entering into a 38-year low interest loan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency for the purpose of laying new water lines within the city. Utilities Board Chairman Ked Sanders told the council the board recommended the action and Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering suggested the council call a special workshop to go over the data and decide on the best course of action. Nesbitt said the council should be able to have a definite course of action in place by its September meeting, which will fit into the time frame of the loan availability. The loan will require a rate adjustment to satisfy RD’s loan structure.

Nesbitt also told the council that Kentucky Abandoned Mine Lands is studying the proposed Payne Gap Water Project, which would include Kona and connect with the Whitesburg City water system at Mayking. He said AML is favorably disposed toward paying for the entire $5 million-plus project because of pre-1976 surface law mining that occurred extensively in the area of study. The council voted unanimously to award the contract for engineering services to Nesbitt Engineering for the Payne Gap project and for a project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which will rehabilitate Elkhorn Lake and Dam.

Nesbitt said the Corps project will include dredging the lake, which will remove the water lilies and allow the lake to hold much more water. The dam will be inspected and rehabilitated. He said that with the added capacity of the lake, plus the rehabilitated city water lines, Jenkins will be able to provide water to the entire Payne Gap project as well as serving as a back-up source for the county. He told the council it will pick up hundreds of new customers through the Payne Gap project without going into any debt if AML pays for the project.

Matt Curtis of Nesbitt Engineering reported that the Number Two Bottom sewer rehabilitation project is under final consideration by Rural Development and should be ready to go to bid in September. He said the contracts should be let and work commenced by November. Curtis added that the final inspection on the Cane Branch/McPeeks Branch water line extension should be complete in September and lines will be in service soon. He said the city has added 14 customers for a project that was fully funded by AML.

Police Chief Jim Stephens read a commendation letter to the council he wrote for Officer Anthony Maggard for the outstanding performance of his duties and announced that because Maggard’s excellent job performance he has been promoted to corporal. Stephens said he has been very impressed by Maggard’s attitude and the measured way in which he performs his duties.

Stephens said that Maggard, an Iraq War veteran, has been faced with situations in which deadly force could have been used, but that he used his combat skills to defuse the situations and make the arrest without firing his weapon. Maggard’s wife Shannon joined Stephens in the presentation and pinned the corporal’s chevrons on Maggard’s uniform.

Stephens told the council he also had a letter of appreciation for Officer Tim Miller, but that Miller was unable to attend the meeting.

In the Mayor’s Report, Mayor Dixon praised the Letcher Fiscal Court and District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming for building the new Dunham Park which includes a regulation beach volleyball court. Dixon also thanked TECO Coal Corp. for a donation the company made recently to the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department

Dixon said the city spent $24,826.21 on chemicals to treat city water last year and the cost for July was $3,323.18. He said city water is analyzed every two weeks and is completely safe to drink. He added that the city has placed trash cans all around Elkhorn Lake and through the city parks and urged people to use them.

Dixon reminded citizens that the Jenkins Homecoming Days Festival will be held August 27-29 and invited everyone to come. He also reported that the city does not have a 24 hour dispatcher service and that after 5 p.m. or on weekends, people should call 911 for police or fire emergencies and 832-4218 for water and sewer problems.

In other council business:

• The Homecoming Days Festival Committee reported a balance of $8,190 before the $2,500 gift from EQT and an additional $1,000 gift Ked Sanders reported from Coca-Cola. Sanders said Coke has been an enthusiastic supporter of the festival and supplies vendors with free soft drinks and stations a service person on site during the entire festival.

• Mayor Dixon reported that 94th District State Representative Leslie Combs has helped secure funds to extend a sidewalk from the entrance to the Jenkins football field to the site of the old Phillips 66 Service Station for Safe Schools Sidewalks.

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