Whitesburg KY

Grant expires, Fleming-Neon cops lose access to computers

Fleming-Neon City Police officers are no longer able to run instant criminal background checks when arresting suspects or making traffic stops.

The Fleming-Neon City Council learned at its January meeting that computers mounted in city police cruisers lost part of the software needed to run the criminal checks when a grant that funded the purchase of the laptop computers and software expired. Police Chief Mike Dingus said the software was purchased with a grant from Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers through the Center for Rural Development in Somerset. Dingus said that when the grant expired the software was terminated.

Dingus said officers can still conduct checks, but now must call Kentucky State Police Post 13 in Hazard to obtain the information. Dingus said he is looking for grant money to buy new software for the laptop computers as well as applications that can be used on smart phones to conduct the checks.

Dingus told the council that criminal activity has been down recently and attributed it at least partly to the weather. He said complaints and arrests are down and officers responded to one fender bender in December. Dingus also reported that the Chevrolet Tahoe the department bought with a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant should be ready within two or three weeks.

In response to a question from Councilman James D. Collins, Dingus said plans to make the city’s radio system fully digital, along with those of the Jenkins police and fire departments, are on hold. Dingus said Jenkins Mayor G.C. Kincer is looking into the matter and met with radio technicians and looked at radio towers that serve both cities last Friday. Councilman Tom Haynes, who is also a member of the Fleming-Neon Volunteer Fire Department, said the plan calls for converting to narrow band radio in 2012 and going digital in 2013 and 2014.

Water Superintendent Carlos Phillips told the council that a high-pressure pump at the water plant had failed and is being rebuilt. Phillips said the Haymond sewer project is essentially complete and just a few clean-up matters remain to be completed.

Phillips also told the council the new sewer lift station at Neon Junction is working and that a fence was built around the pump station with funds left over from the project. Council member Linda Cantrell asked Phillips about the frequency of water bills being estimated instead of coming from a meter reading, and Phillips said the water department tries not to estimate bills at all. However, he said, sometimes a meter is not accessible because of a vehicle being parked over it or for other reasons and in that case an estimate is made and the bill is then adjusted at the next reading. Cantrell said one customer said her bill had been estimated several times in a row and had gone up considerably after the next actual reading. Phillips said that was unusual and he wasn’t aware of it happening but would check on it.

Mayor Susie Polis announced that city offices will be closed on Monday, January 16, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and that garbage will be picked up that Tuesday. Polis re-appointed Councilman James D. Collins as the city PRIDE coordinator. The council also discussed the ongoing problem with water in the road in Fleming near the Little League Park and Tom Haynes said one of the gas companies had put large gravel on one of the soft spots so its trucks could turn.

The council also hosted fourth- and fifth-grade social studies students from Fleming-Neon Elementary School at the meeting. Social studies teacher Lisa Giles said her fifth-grade students had studied government before Christmas and the fourth graders were getting ready to study it as well. Giles said with that in mind, she had invited her students to come to the council meeting to observe their city government in action.

Students who attended the meeting included Nathaniel Champion, Layton Shepherd, Zachary Garland (along with younger brother Dakota Garland), Haley Fields, Taylor Sturgill, Mindy Bentley, and Katlyn Fosskuhl. Parent Christina Jessey also attended.

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