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Firm wins bid for demolition of Neon store

A misplaced bar running through a dollar sign caused some consternation at the August meeting of the Fleming- Neon City Council when Mayor Susie Polis announced the single bid for demolition of the old Hazen Building from M&J Construction. She showed the handwritten bid to several council members to see if they could tell if the bar was a one because the difference was between a bid of $38,000, or $138,000. As Polis went to her office to call the company, Michael Collins and T.J. Parsons of M&J came in told her it was for $38,000. The council voted unanimously to accept the bid.

Polis said the bid included demolition of the building, and removal and disposal of the building materials, along with compliance with all state and federal laws. She also told the council she had received a telephone call from New York businessman Tom Curry, whose family owned the building before the Hazen family purchased it. She said Curry had asked for two cornerstones bearing “Curry 1947,” his family name and the date the foundation was laid. Collins told the mayor he was confident he could save the cornerstones as well as a third stone with “Hazen” on it.

Collins also asked Polis if she would contact Appalachian Electric Power and see if they would turn the power off for several hours one day, probably on a Saturday, so the back of the building can be taken down safely. He said taking the building down with the electricity on would be hazardous because of the proximity of electrical wires that run behind the building. The date will be announced once work progresses to the point it is necessary and if AEP agrees. Collins said his company would try to get started within seven days. Councilman James D. Collins asked him to try and be finished by Neon Days, September 9, 10, and 11.

In other business, Water and Sewer Superintendent Carlos Phillips told the council that although rainfall has been inconsistent, the city’s wells are holding steady and the water supply is good. Phillips said there have been problems in the last few weeks with what he described as “pockets of dingy water,” moving through the system, the result of pumps shutting off too soon which allows wells to get low and the residue of the tanks to get into the system. He said the problem has been located and mostly taken care of and there have been no incidents in the last week and a half. Council member Cheryl Furby and Mayor Polis both said they had seen dingy water more recently.

Phillips told the council the Haymond Sewer Project is taking some treated water from city lines for its boring machine, and he has asked the contractor to be more careful because the sudden drain can cause lines to “hammer,” or make a clattering sound. He added the sewer project is about 45 percent complete and there have been no complaints over the contractor’s work.

Police Chief Mike Dingus reported that 34 citations were issued in July and 16 arrests were made. Officers responded to three accidents and 60 complaints. Dingus said most criminal activity was drug related, from robbery to dealing. Dingus added that the city’s dog problem is not getting any better. He said he has begun to issue citations to dog owners whose animals are in violation of the city dog ordinance.

Dingus also told the council that four-wheelers are becoming a problem on city streets. He said a number of four-wheeler operators mistakenly think the city’s four-wheeler ordinance is in place, but it has not been finalized and the police department will enforce the laws that are in place, which prohibit four-wheelers from driving on city streets except to cross from one trail to another.

“We don’t have issues with four-wheelers crossing roads to get from one trail to another,” said Dingus, “but not driving on Main Street.”

Councilman Collins told Dingus that four-wheelers create a serious problem by speeding in Fleming and Dingus replied that even when the city four-wheeler ordinance passes, they will have to obey traffic laws.

Mayor Polis reported that HOMES has submitted a federal housing grant proposal to rehabilitate four houses in Neon for low-income housing. She said the houses are in blighted areas in town and asked the council to approve writing two letters on city stationary in support of the grant proposal. The council approved the request.

The council voted to keep the existing tax rate of 25 cents per $100 on real property and water craft. Polis reminded the council that the bench in the city park will be dedicated to former council member Darrell Webb and Tim Hall during Neon Days. The dedication will be held September 10 at 1 p.m.

— By William Farley

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