Whitesburg KY
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Jenkins is abandoning hope for welcome center

The City of Jenkins is giving up on efforts to create a highway welcome center at Pound Gap. The city would now like to use the nearly $500,000 previously allocated to the project for new water lines.

Jenkins Mayor D. Charles Dixon told the Jenkins City Council at its May meeting this week that the Kentucky Department of Transportation will not provide money for maintaining a welcome center and the city cannot bear the financial burden of keeping such a center open on its own.

In addition, City Attorney Randall Tackett said the city still does not have a deed for the proposed site. The center would have been the only rest area along US 23 from the Tennessee-North Carolina state line and the southern Ohio town of Waverly.

Dixon said he hopes the city can use the money, obtained through the efforts of the late Rep. Paul Mason of Whitesburg, as matching funds for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant the city recently received from the Governor’s Office of Local Government (GOLD).

The funds obtained by Mason were originally allocated to the Letcher Fiscal Court during the Carroll Smith adminstration as part of former Gov. Paul Patton’s Community Development Initiative which included Jenkins.

Dixon told the council he will write a letter to GOLD asking for permission to redirect the funds to water projects. He said the money will be returned to the fiscal court and then to the city if all goes well.

“It’s been very frustrating,” said Dixon. “We’ve talked about it for 10 years but it can’t be done. We don’t have the money for maintenance. I recommend we put it on the immediate problem (water line renovations.)”

Council member Rebecca Terrill moved to allow the city to use the money for water lines and Rick Damron added that the city should make a Memorandum of Agreement with the fiscal court for the alternate use of the money. The council voted unanimously to approve the motion.

In other business, City Attorney Tackett conducted the first reading of a proposed $2,470,122 budget for fiscal year 2009-10. Dixon described the budget as very lean and stressed the city’s efforts to collect license fees, taxes, and other revenue sources to add to its coffers. The proposed budget includes a three-percent raise for employees. The council took no action on the draft proposal. Dixon said he will have the final budget proposal ready for a second reading at the council’s June meeting.

The Utilities Report for May brought more news reflecting the city’s need for new water lines. Water Department Superintendent James “Bo” Hopkins reported that losses of treated water for April exceeded 10 million gallons, or 70 percent of all water produced. Hopkins said that 6,897,866 gallons were accounted for, which included 5,695,200 in leaks. Unaccounted for losses stood at 4,021,134, or 26 percent.

Hopkins told the council that one of the major leaks had been repaired in the Smokey Row community and the reduction in water loss should be reflected in the May report. He said city workers installed 1,200 feet of water line, two new fire hydrants, and four new valves to replace lines and hardware that dated back to before the 1960s. He said the work took more than a week to finish.

“The leak was worse than we thought,” said Hopkins. “There was water everywhere and we probably lost over four-million gallons at Smokey Row last month.”

Hopkins said city crews also repaired a line break caused by unauthorized digging in Wrights Hollow. He said workers discovered the line had been running to an old out-of-service water tank. He said the problem was responsible for the loss of one-million or more gallons of water in a threeweek period.

Police Chief Jim Stephens reported an increase of 15 complaints over March, to 136. Stephens said Jenkins police officers made 23 arrests including five for drug-related crimes, six for domestic reasons, and one out-of-state fugitive. He credited the fugitive arrest to Sgt. Adam Swindall who saw a vehicle parked in a place where it wasn’t supposed to be and ran a computer check on the tags, resulting in the arrest and recovery of a stolen vehicle from Ohio.

Stephens also praised City Clerk Sherry Puckett, who serves as dispatcher for the department. April was National Dispatchers Appreciation Month.

In other council business:

• Council member Terry Braddock announced that he will make a motion within 60 days to tax the property where the Gateway Industrial Park is located. Braddock expressed frustration with the slow pace of development and said he wants to turn the park into a commercial center.

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