The Jenkins City Council took an important step in making the city completely wet at its first meeting of 2017.
Following the required waiting period after last September’s election when voters in Jenkins overwhelmingly supported the wet initiative, City Attorney Randall Tackett conducted the first reading of the 25-page comprehensive ordinance, leaving out only parts that were already covered in the original “moist” Ordinance 227, that had allowed the sale of liquor by the drink in restaurants. Despite the parts that were left out, it took 50 minutes to read the entire ordinance.
Tackett said the reason for the detail in the ordinance is to address issues that may or may not ever occur in the sale of alcohol, but he said it was better to have a plan in place in case the city did. He said the new ordinance also gives the city a “tremendous amount of control” over the issue, and more control over restaurant and bar sales than in the previous ordinance. The council did not vote on the ordinance Monday. It would become law after it is read and approved a second time and published in The Mountain Eagle.
The ordinance covers a variety of licensing fees and regulations. Sales time in package stores will be between 6 a.m. and midnight, and sales at by the drink outlets will be available between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.
Sunday sales would be allowed under a special license. Sunday alcohol sales are already permitted in many parts of neighboring Wise County, Virginia.
No police scanners will be permitted in establishments serving liquor or malt beverages and it will be unlawful to consume alcohol on the premises of package sales establishments. The city will have two licenses for package liquor sales. One item in the ordinance that drew a good deal of laughter stated that no mud wrestling, nude dancing or “Jell-O wrestling” will be permitted in establishments serving alcohol.
In other business, the council also received a report on the 2015–2016 audit from Georgetown certified public accountant Rodney Welch. Welch, who was reared in Jenkins, regularly conducts the audit, and told the council that although the city still faces issues with debt and deficits in some departments, the completion of the Jenkins Waterline Replacement Project has improved the picture in the water department and for the first time in several years, there was no deficit in the solid waste department. Welch showed a Power Point Graphic that reflected the amount of water produced by the city and the amount sold moving toward each other at a positive rate. In the past, the city had lost as much as 75 percent of treated water to leaks and from lines that no longer served anything but had not been disconnected. Some of the city’s lines had been in use since the 1912 founding and the water simply ran into the ground. The waterline replacement allowed all the old lines to be shut off and all city water now runs through new lines or a few lines that have been installed since the 1980s.
Welch told the council it needs to clear a number of delinquent accounts in utilities, which he said are so old they will never be repaid. Total city revenue for the audit period was $1,113,000 and total expenditures were $1,165,000. The city carries $694,000 in debt with $69,000 due this year. Both the audit and the new alcohol sales ordinance will be available to the public at City Hall during regular business hours.
Ken Reid of Nesbitt Engineering reported that the Fleming-Neon Interconnect is nearly complete. He said a directional drill will be necessary to complete the line installation and the project will add a possible 22 new customers from homes along the route. When it is complete, the city will be able to sell water to the Fleming-Neon Water District from a connection at Haymond in the event of an emergency. The project was paid for with a grant from Abandoned Mine Lands, at no cost to the City of Jenkins.
In his report for the past month, Jenkins Police Chief Jim Stephens reported that the Jenkins Police Department had responded to 105 complaints, and issued 18 citations and eight verbal warnings. Officers made 11 arrests, including one DUI and two that were drug related. They also responded to four non-injury accidents and one accident with injuries.
The major incident in December was the robbery of the Rite Aid Pharmacy, which was quickly solved. With assistance from the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office, the Kentucky State Police, and Constable Luther Tackett, the suspect was apprehended within two hours of the incident and no one was injured. Stephens expressed his thanks to all the agencies involved and said the inter-agency cooperation was the major factor in the quick and safe resolution.
Mayor Todd Depriest reported that plans for the Save-a-Lot grocery store to replace the IGA that closed last year are still in place. Depriest said the architect that had worked with the chain had recently died and it was in the process of hiring a new one to do the necessary work for the new store.
Depriest also told the council that he was very pleased with the turnout for the city’s Christmas Parade and that the increase in the number of floats and in civic participation was very gratifying. He thanked city workers and the police and fire departments for their help and thanked “Santa Claus,” who he said had come from Pike County.
Council member Rebecca Amburgey told the council she has been contacted by a group of Jenkins High School alumni who wanted to take on some sort of project to help the community. Several suggestions were offered, including one from City Attorney Tackett that they could possibly help demolish blighted and deteriorate houses. Amburgey asked that anyone else with a suggestion call City Hall or contact her.
The city treated 10,262,000 gallons of water in December and sold 8,147,000 gallons, for a difference of 2,115,000 gallons, or a potential loss of 21 percent. Of that amount, the fire department used 25,000 gallons, leaving an unaccounted-for loss of 2,090,000, or 20 percent. Mayor Depriest said that since then, a major line break at the industrial park has been found and repaired. He said that was mostly responsible for the loss.