Whitesburg KY
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Fleming-Neon fights different water battle

The City of Fleming-Neon has water problems of a different sort than those the city experienced when water levels in both city wells dropped and prompted a water emergency last fall. This time, the problems have nothing to do with the city’s wells or water plant, but are the result of too much rain, which has left standing water in a number of city streets.

Mayor Susie Polis told the Fleming-Neon City Council at its March meeting that standing water has created a number of problems, including ice that caused a car to wreck last week. Polis also mentioned one place where water is bubbling up through a city street. Councilman James D. Collins asked if the water was the result of rainwater being infiltrated into city sewers and Councilman Trey Quillen asked if the water coming out carried untreated sewage. Polis said she had walked by the site several times and it smelled like sewage to her, but added that water department workers had told her it was not sewage.

Quillen told Polis that regardless of the source, the water poses a serious problem for city streets and would have to be taken care of quickly. Quillen said he had received a number of complaints about water problems at the Fleming-Neon Volunteer Fire Department as well. The council discussed several options for routing water coming off the hills that surround the city away from city streets.

In other business, Police Chief Mike Dingus delivered the news that a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to purchase a four-wheel drive vehicle for the city police department has been approved. Dingus said he was told that USDA does not have the funds available at this time, but the city will receive the funding when it does become available.

Dingus also told the council that arrests are down and said he is working with Jake Johnson of the Sanitation Department and City Clerk Janice Banks on a grant proposal to the Kentucky League of Cities for safety equipment for police officers and the water department.

Johnson told the council that some people are coming to businesses after they close and illegally putting trash in their Dumpsters. Johnson said it not only costs the city more in tipping fees (landfill fees), but it is also becoming a problem for several businesses. He asked that citizens cooperate by not dumping trash in the Dumpsters and by reporting violators to the police or to the sanitation department. Councilman Collins asked Johnson if he thought putting signs up would help, but Johnson said the people who are dumping trash already know they are in violation of the law and are coming in at night and when businesses are closed.

The council scheduled the city PRIDE cleanup for the second and fourth weeks in April when sanitation workers will pick up large items such as furniture and tires in addition to their regular pickups. Johnson suggested cutting the pickups from the entire month to two weeks because of the added fuel costs as gas and diesel prices have gone up drastically. He also asked that citizens participate in the cleanup by collecting waste that has gathered in their yards over the winter.

Pickups of trash and large items are scheduled for April 15 and 29 and recyclable items will be picked up on April 12. The PRIDE city cleanup day is scheduled for April 16 with a backup day on April 23 in the event of bad weather. The cleanup will begin at 9 a.m. at City Hall. Councilman Collins said this year’s theme is “Five for Five,” meaning that each person should try to bring five additional volunteers with them. The mayor said it would be nice if others besides just council members and city workers show up.

Neon resident Doug Brink, who participated in sessions with representatives of Berea College’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good Program last summer, visited the council to report on recent economic development talks. Brink told the council that Lorie Garkovich, Extension Specialist with the University of Kentucky’s Community Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), led the January 31 meeting and 23 people had attended. Brink said a lot of good ideas were presented and Garkovich is now working on a strategic plan to look at viable opportunities. The next meeting will be held at Boone Fork Community Center in Fleming on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. The public is welcome and refreshments will be served.

Brink said the possibility of developing a city logo was brought up at the January meeting and suggested having a contest and providing a small prize for the winning entry. Councilman Collins said the city would be interested in participating and Brink added that grant funds are available to fund business ideas.

In other business:

• The council discussed possibilities to use the Hazen lot, former site of the Hazen Building which housed Hazen’s Department Store. Several council members asked that a sitting park with trees and a gazebo be placed there. Mayor Polis said a park could be put in which would still allow bank employees to use the back part of the lot for parking. Polis said there are county funds available through the Department of Parks and Recreation.

• Councilman Quillen told the council that a fence around a junkyard on the road to Hemphill has fallen down and Polis said city ordinances demand that junkyards be fenced in. Polis said she will see to it that a copy of the ordinance is shown to the property owner.

• The council also discussed the poor condition of an old building located across Main Street from the building which once housed Harlow Motor Company. Polis said the owner of the building, once occupied by the Dollar Store, has been contacted several times with no results. Polis said she would discuss the possibility of condemning the building with City Attorney James W. Craft II.

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