Whitesburg KY

Fiscal court gets good and bad financial news

It’s one step forward and one step back financially for Letcher County.

The Letcher County Fiscal Court was being able to save a significant amount of money by refinancing loans for the recreation center and the courthouse, but found itself in the position of having to spend $300,000 to replace the heating and cooling tower for the courthouse.

At the first fiscal court meeting of the year, Judge/ Executive Terry Adams told the court it had little choice but to replace the cooling tower. He said an engineering company had examined the heating and cooling system and had found it to be in very bad shape. Adams added that the tower is beyond repair but that some other parts of the system can be fixed, and said he had been presented with two options.

Option one is to replace the tower and repair the system, and will cost about $212,000. Option two is to replace the system with a closed-circuit system that use much less water than the current one and will cost about $300,000. County Treasurer Doris Jean Frazier told the court with option two, the county would see a significant savings in its water bill. Frazier said the county pays about $5,000 a month for water now and system will eventually pay for itself.

Adams said that whatever the fiscal court members decide, they need to move quickly because if the system breaks down in the hottest part of the summer, they will be forced to relocate prisoners from the Letcher County Jail and won’t be able to use the courthouse, including holding court. He said if they start soon, they should have the new system in before the hottest months.

Adams said the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) will pay 65.9 percent of the cost of replacing either system. The court voted to go with option two, the closed system, and Adams said it will need to advertise for bids soon as possible. Frazier added that AOC is “great to work with,” and will provide administrative assistance as well as partial funding.

Adams also said he had been contacted by representatives of the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACO), which holds the loans on the courthouse and recreation center. He said the representatives of KACO informed him that with lower interest rates that are currently in place, the county can save about $100,000 in interest by refinancing its loans at the lower rate. The court voted unanimously to refinance the loans.

The court also voted unanimously to appoint Sam Oaks to the Letcher County Water and Sewer Commission. Oaks will replace Board Chairman Bernard

Watts, who is retiring from the commission.

In other business, the court voted unanimously to add 10 days of sick time to county employees who are quarantined for COVID-19. This is on top of regular sick time. Solid Waste Coordinator Mike Gover will take over the position of 911 Coordinator and 911 Coordinator Matt Amburgey will take over the Sanitation Department.

The court also issued a request for sealed proposals for leasing and maintaining the Oven Fork Community Center. Proposals must be delivered to Adams’s office on or before February 12, 2021 by 4:30 p.m.

The court voted to honor Corporal Dan Combs by designating Kentucky 931 North from the Intersection with Kentucky 15 in Whitesburg to the intersection in Camp Branch as “Corporal Dan Combs Highway, U.S. Army.” Combs, who celebrated his 101st birthday in November, is a veteran of World War II.

The courts voted unanimously to honor PFC Goebel Ritter, United States Marine Corps, by naming Jenkins Road starting at Kentucky 2014, mile point 0.0 to mile point 4.867 as “PFC Goebel Ritter Memorial Highway, U.S. Marine Corps.

Ritter, late of Whitesburg, was a former NBA player, a high school basketball coach, and an assistant principal and assistant school superintendent.

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