It looks like Jenkins will have the summertime blues, with no swimming pool and no Jenkins Days homecoming festival.
During the June city council meeting, Mayor Todd Depriest informed the council that as of now, it is likely that efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19 will prevent the city pool from opening, and restrictions on large gatherings will make the Jenkins Days Festival impossible to hold. The June meeting was conducted on Zoom via conference call.
Depriest said he has participated in a number of conference calls with government and health officials and there is little likelihood that swimming pools will open in Kentucky soon enough for it to be feasible to open the Jenkins pool. He said he had hoped to open the pool for a short while, but the costs and efforts to open the heated pool in Jenkins would require full occupancy and a relatively long season, neither of which is feasible. The limitations on crowd gatherings would make it very difficult to safely hold the festival, which usually crowds several thousand people into the confines of the city park and downtown area.
In other business, City Attorney Randall Tackett conducted the second reading of the city’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020–2021. The budget is balanced with expenditures of $3,144,817 matching revenue. Each city fund is also balanced with the General Fund revenue and expenses of $835,169, Water Funds revenue and expenses at $527,100, Sewer Funds revenue and expenses at $233,020, and Special Projects at $1,150,000. Other funds Local Government Economic Assistance (LGEA) $47,463, Road Fund revenue and expenses at $40,045, and Solid Waste revenue and expenses, which is always subject to cost increases in fuel prices and tipping fees, at $233,020. The vote to approve the second reading was unanimous and Depriest said that a summary copy of the budget is available to the public at city hall during business hours.
Tackett also held the second reading of Budget Amendment 252-A, which amends the city’s 2019-2020 budget to include $1,000,000 in non-budgeted receipts from a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s waterline replacement special projects. The funds will be used to complete the extension of water lines into residential areas of Jenkins that have not received new lines. The second reading was approved unanimously. The line extension will be done in areas that are difficult to reach and do not have sufficient population density to qualify under other funding guidelines.
The council discussed the resolution that revises the Cooperative Road Agreement with the Commonwealth of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The resolution involves a reduction in the amount of funding that was originally offered in Cooperative Road Aid by the Cabinet. The reduction was necessary because of lowered gasoline tax receipts that occurred because of reduced travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s apportionment of Municipal Road Aid Funds for the coming fiscal year will be $40,044.56. This is based on revenue estimates by the Office of State Budget Director.
Depriest also emphasized the importance of every American citizen taking part in the U.S. Census process. He said that state and local allocations from the federal government are based on the census and that vital congressional representation is allocated by population numbers.
Council member Ernestine Hill reminded everyone in the county to get an absentee ballots or make arrangements to vote in the coming primary election. Like so many things, the election was postponed by COVID-19, and to make things more difficult, the change in voting machines mandated by the Secretary of State’s office has put the county in a position where mail-in voting or absentee voting in the county court clerk’s office is the most practical way to vote. The number of voting machines in the county is limited to two because the Secretary of State’s office has been unable to replace all the voting machines it took out of service.
Mail-in absentee ballots can be requested by calling County Court Clerk Winston Meade’s office in Whitesburg, or through the Kentucky Board of Elections website. There is a voting machine in the county court clerk’s office as well, and citizens can vote there at any time during business hours until the day of the primary. Randall Tackett said the Letcher County Democratic Executive Committee will run ads every week to remind voters how to get a ballot or find a voting place.
Other council concerns mainly centered on reckless and dangerous behavior by motorcycle and four-wheeler riders. Each magistrate mentioned dangerous incidences involving speeding and wheelies in their neighborhoods and Depriest said he will speak to the police chief and instruct the Jenkins Police Department to increase enforcement.
Depriest said that funds will be tight through the end of the fiscal year and he did not want to see the city find itself in a position where employees had to be laid off. Councilman Rick Damron questioned the use of funds obtained through the sale of a Thompson submachine gun, which he said he thought were supposed to be in a special account for a “rainy day.” Depriest said the funds had been placed in the general fund with a separate line item, but told Damron that “this is a rainy day.” He said the funds from the gun sale have been used to pay police salaries and fund police department equipment purchases.