Jenkins police officers will be required to adhere to a policy of limiting their law enforcement activities to the city limits. The rule has been in existence since the administration of former mayor Robert “Pud” Shubert and was restated after a 2009 lawsuit that involved a Jenkins officer drawing a weapon on a suspect while answering a call in Haymond.
The issue was raised again this week during a discussion at a special Jenkins City Council meeting about the deteriorating condition of the city’s police cars. Mayor G.C. Kincer said that former Mayor Shubert had pursued grant funding during his administration to ensure that the city could have an annual rotation of police cars, but said it had lost momentum because of funding cuts after Shubert left office. Council member Rebecca Terrill-Amburgey said that during the final years of Shubert’s administration several cruisers had been involved in accidents and said the city had possibly fallen behind on the rotation because of the necessity of replacing the wrecked cars.
Kincer said the city’s police cruisers are in bad shape and added that at present, funding is not sufficient to buy new vehicles. He said the city is working with Fleming-Neon Police Chief Mike Dingus on a regular maintenance program for both cities’ cars. Kincer told the council that the best course would probably be to purchase a few state surplus vehicles until funding becomes available to get new ones. Kincer said he will ask Shubert for his help.
Councilman Rick Damron told the council the coal company he works for had recently purchased another coal company and acquired a large number of late model Chevrolet Tahoes at the time of the purchase, which it intends to sell. Damron said he would ask about the possibility of the city getting in on the sale.
Kincer told the council the main reason the city’s police cruisers are in bad shape is that Jenkins police officers frequently respond to “out of the city” calls, which adds to the wear and tear of regular use. Kincer said he wants to stop that practice and to limit police services to within the city limits only. He said he wants to stop Jenkins offi- cers from answering calls in other parts of the county as well as in nearby areas that have refused annexation in the past, except in extreme emergencies.
“I don’t think that our police cars should go out of the city limits,” said Kincer. “Stop at the city limits and take care of our citizens. It’s not fair to the citizens of Jenkins. Marshall’s Branch, Joe’s Branch and Payne Gap are not part of the city.”
Terrill-Amburgey told Kincer the council had already addressed that issue and that a policy exists directing
Jenkins officers to only respond to calls in the city limits except in extreme emergencies. However, Kincer said Jenkins police officers regularly respond to calls all over the county. Councilman Chuck Anderson said he understood that Jenkins officers have been dispatched to Hemphill. Damron said he has a police scanner and regularly hears Jenkins officers responding to calls out of the city limits.
“ If they answer those calls, they get into all kinds of legal issues,” said Kincer. “The citizens have to pay for this. We have to pull the plug on that.”
“Joe’s Branch wouldn’t vote to join the city,” said Damron. “But they want the services.”
“The JPD is on duty 24/7,” said Kincer, “but that should be for the city only.”
Kincer also pointed out that the Whitesburg Police Department has a policy forbidding officers from answering calls out of the city limits and Damron mentioned a recent news item to the effect that the City of Lexington is reversing a policy that allows officers there to take cruisers home for their personal use.
In other business, council members questioned a 71 percent loss of treated water, which included an unaccounted loss of 5,507,200, or 42 percent. City Administrator Todd DePriest urged patience and told the council that as new water lines are turned on the additional pressure will find the weak spots on older lines and cause new leaks. The city produced 13,228,000 gallons of treated water in October and sold only 3,773,000 gallons, a difference of 9,445,000 gallons.
DePriest added that city workers had located and repaired a large leak in a six- inch line running to Dunham and while they were digging to repair the leak they located and turned off a ¾-inch line that carried water but apparently went nowhere. DePriest said it just ran into the woods and had probably once served a mine that no longer exists. Eleven other leaks were found and repaired as well.
Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering told the council he was encouraged by lower water losses immediately after Phase I of the city’s Waterline Replacement Project came on line, but was not surprised by additional losses as new leaks happened. He agreed with DePriest that a number of service lines ran to old mines and said many could still be active.
“When we first turned it on, pumping (the daily time spent pumping treated water) went down,” said Nesbitt. “But now new leaks have developed in old lines.”
Nesbitt said the additional pressure from the new lines added to the pressure on older lines and said it eventually found weak points and new leaks blew out. He said the leaks that are now occurring are all on older lines and said water losses will probably continue until the city’s old lines are all replaced. In response to a question from councilman Chuck Anderson, Nesbitt estimated the entire project will be complete in three or four years and may have to be done in five or even six phases, depending on how funding comes in. Phase I is complete and Phase III is ready to go to bid and Nesbitt said it should be under construction by January. Due to funding issues, Phase II will begin after Phase I.
The council authorized a legal services agreement for Phase III and voted unanimously to award the bid for the Payne Gap Water Project to Akins Excavating of Corbin, which had the low bid of $1,213,502.50. Nesbitt told the council Akins has done a lot of work in eastern Kentucky, including a recent job at Hazard, and has a good reputation. He said a pre-construction conference will be scheduled at which time the council and mayor can discuss specifics with the contractor.
In other business, Mayor Kincer invited District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming to address the council after thanking Fleming and the Letcher County Fiscal Court for recent paving work done on county roads in the city. Kincer told the council Fleming had worked hard to make the paving possible. Fleming thanked Kincer and told the council he also wanted to address what he said were inaccuracies in a letter to the editor from Burdine resident Loretta Gallion that appeared in the November 9 edition of The Mountain Eagle.
Fleming said the Letcher Fiscal Court had spent $53,000 of its state-financed paving fund on Joe’s Branch and said there had been two spots along the road that had required more work than had been anticipated. Because of the extra work, Fleming said the pavers ran out of asphalt a few feet before reaching the intersection with Highway 805, which runs in front of Mrs. Gallion’s home. Fleming said he had nothing to do with stopping the work short of Highway 805. In her letter, Mrs. Gallion alleged that Fleming had caused the paving work to be shut down in front of her home because “Magistrate Fleming doesn’t like me because I told the truth a while back about the water