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Free water tap-ons still available in Neon area

Fleming-Neon council told that new customers can save $2,500

Even at a time when high fuel prices are driving up the cost of nearly everything, there are still bargains and opportunities to save money. That’s certainly the case for prospective water customers in Haymond, Seco, and other areas served by the Fleming-Neon Water Department.

Ken Taylor, project engineer of the Haymond Water Project, told the Fleming-Neon City Council at its July meeting that new customers who sign up for water service before the actual construction contract is signed will not have to pay the $2,500 tap fee. Taylor said as long as the construction contract has not been signed, the grants for the project will also cover the signon (tap) fee.

Taylor’s comments came in response to Fleming-Neon Water Department Superintendent Carlos Phillips, who told the council that while sign-ups are going well, there are still some people who are confused about the fees and the waiver. Phillips said a number of people came into City Hall recently for a Saturday sign-up session and that some others thought that was the only day to sign up. He said he and other water department workers have been going door to door to ask people to sign up for water and to explain the fee waiver. However, Phillips said there are still some who don’t know about the opportunity.

“A lot of people misunderstood that meeting,” said Phillips. “They thought it was the only time to sign up.”

Taylor told the council that as long as people get signed up for water before construction contracts are signed, they will not have to pay the $2,500 tap fee. He said under terms of the grants for the projects, sign-ups are covered by the grants up until the day the construction contracts are signed. After that, the fee will be in effect, so it is important to sign up soon.

“If they sign up now, they can get the tap fee waived,” said Taylor. “Once we advertise for bids and get it under contract, that is when the contractor is locked in on what he can install. There is a tap fee amnesty until then.”

Taylor told the council that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency, one of the primary funders, requires 216 homes (of approximately 350 potential customers) to sign up for water service before bids can be advertised for the construction. He said as of Monday, there were slightly less than 200 signatures.

“They need to come in (to Fleming-Neon City Hall) and sign up,” said Taylor. “Technically, after we get 216, then we can bid.”

The water department will run lines for Number One and Number Two Hollow, from Seco to the sewer plant, and from the upper end of Wright’s Trailer Court at Neon Junction to Gray’s Branch. Phillips and Taylor said anyone in those areas who has not signed up for water should do so as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the fee waiver. Phillips emphasized that anyone can come to city hall and sign up anytime during business hours. Taylor said the work should be finished by next summer and he estimated it will take nine to 10 months after construction contracts are signed. Interested parties can call Fleming- Neon City Hall at 855-7900 or the Fleming-Neon Water Department at 855-7916 or 855-4301.

In the Utilities Report, Phillips told the council water losses for June were down to 19 percent. He said he is surprised it was that low, as there were some leaks and tank run-over, but the losses are down. Phillips said the losses end to fluctuate from month to month and he is uncertain why. He also said the sewer plant is running at peak performance. The sand filter has been cleaned and has new sand and Phillips said the discharge water is crystal clear.

Phillips also said the well which makes up the city’s primary water supply is holding steady and neither gaining nor losing. He said he had been concerned in June when the county went over three weeks without rain, but recent heavy rains have made that up. Phillips said June ended with five inches of rainfall and rain has been steady in July.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to declare a 50 foot by 30 foot lot located beside Jesus Only Church at Tom Biggs Hollow in McRoberts as surplus in response to a request from Stanley Gibson. Gibson said some neighbors parked in the lot during church and kept members from parking there.

City Attorney Jimmy Craft told the council its original plan to lease the property to the church for $1 per year was not legal, as it amounted to giving away city property, so the council voted to declare the property surplus and advertise it for bids.

Jennifer McIntosh of KRADD attended the meeting and asked the council to approve accepting two grants for the Haymond Water Project. The council voted unanimously to accept a Kentucky Infrastructure grant for $388,888 and a grant/ loan package from the USDA’s rural Development agency. The grant is for $585,000 and the loan for $255,000.

In other council business:

. Police Chief Henry Day suggested the council donate a surplus city police cruiser with lights to the Fleming-Neon Fire Department. Day told the council that a number of people in the city do not have 911 addresses clearly posted at their homes and it makes it difficult for first responders to locate them. Council member James D. Collins said a county ordinance requires that 911 addresses be posted and visible from the road.

. Council member Cheryl Furby asked if the city could help remove a tree hanging over Timber Avenue in Fleming. City Attorney Craft said if the tree is located on private property, it is the property owner’s responsibility and city workers are not allowed to do the work.

. The council discussed three blighted and dilapidated properties in Fleming. Mayor Susie Polis said two of the houses are under lien with a local nursing home. City Attorney Craft said the city can still go through with the process of declaring them blighted, but the nursing home, as primary lien-holder, will recoup its costs first if the property is sold.

. Council member Robert Champion told the council the dog problem is getting serious and said a large black dog chased an elderly woman through town last week. Champion said the woman wasn’t bitten or injured but was badly frightened. Champion said that while most dog owners abide by the city’s dog ordinance and keep their dogs up, some flaunt the law and allow theirs to run free. Police Chief Day said he contacts the county dog warden frequently, but often, by the time he gets there the dogs are gone.

. Mayor Polis mentioned runoff, probably “gray water” (non-sewage wastewater) from a house above the walking track. Carlos Phillips said the house doesn’t have city water and probably has a gray water line that is broken. City Attorney Craft said the city has an ordinance to deal with the matter.

. Council member David Vanover mentioned the ongoing problem with East Letcher Ministries. Vanover and other council members expressed frustration with the problem, which they said had turned the old A&P lot into a junkyard that never gets any better. Vanover said East Letcher Ministries has had plenty of time to clean up and the city should take action. Cheryl Furby reminded the council that the ELM lot is the first thing most people see when they enter Neon and it creates a bad impression. City Attorney Craft told the council to have Chief Day issue a citation. Under the city’s nuisance ordinance, a fine of up to $500 a day can be levied if the property isn’t cleaned up. Craft said the amount of the fine would be up to the judge in the matter.

. The council discussed the possibility of a livestock ordinance. Several members mentioned two horses in Fleming which they say create a dangerous nuisance with their droppings. City Clerk Janice Banks will get copies of similar ordinances in Jenkins and Whitesburg and the council will address the matter at its next meeting.

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