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Jenkins offers support to Raven Rock project

The Jenkins City Council voted to enter into a Master Development Agreement with Raven Rock Resorts LLC, stating that it supports Raven Rock LLC’s efforts to develop a resort that will include casino gambling at the Raven Rock park area in Jenkins. Mayor Todd Depriest told the council that the agreement does not commit the city to anything, but does support the effort to secure the property and to persuade the Kentucky General Assembly to approve casino gambling in certain areas in the state.

Kentucky lawmakers are considering a casino bill, HB 190, which would permit the state to operate four commercial casinos, with those casinos offering table games and slots. State racetracks would also be allowed to apply for slot licenses. Until a final decision is reached on HB 190, no further action on the Raven Rock Casino can be taken. Depriest said that people with questions about the effect of locating a casino in the city should visit Murphy, N.C., or look the city up on the Internet.

Last year, Depriest said that since Harrah’s Cherokee Valley and River Casino and Hotel have been located in Murphy, over 1,000 jobs have been added and tourism is way up. Depriest told the council the number of families in Murphy has grown and that people are no longer moving to metropolitan areas in Charlotte and Raleigh in search of work. He said when the textile mills, which had been the main source of jobs for the city, closed, people began to move away in search of opportunity in much the same way that people have moved out of Jenkins and Letcher County following the collapse of the coal industry. He added that the issue for him is jobs, to fuel stability and growth in the city.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve a resolution that will officially name the second day of the annual August Jenkins Homecoming Festival as “Becky Day” in honor of Rebecca Amburgey, who died recently. Amburgey served the city as a council member and on the Parks and Recreation Committee, as well as in other capacities. The resolution also states that the city will henceforth maintain a tent at the festival for Amburgey’s friends to use “to gather in and enjoy.” Mayor Depriest also welcomed Ernestine Hill to the council. Hill was appointed at the February meeting to fill the seat vacated by Amburgey’s death.

The council voted to buy a factory remanufactured engine for the reserve garbage truck. At last month’s meeting, Mayor Depriest reported that the engine had failed in the International backup garbage truck, leaving the city with only the more recently purchased Freightliner sanitation truck. He said a new truck would cost $139,000 and leasing would cost the city $24,000 a year for seven years, but if the newer truck breaks down, the city would be without a vehicle to haul garbage. The council approved authorizing Depriest to secure a bank loan for the purchase of a new engine, which Depriest said would cost about $10,000, and will have a warranty. Depriest added that the Freightliner truck was paid for in 2018, not long before the backup truck went down.

The council also voted to approve the second reading of Ordinance 304-19, which closes Little Elkhorn, or Tunnel Road, which runs by Jenkins Middle High School. The road dead ends at the tunnel to the old Elkhorn Country Club. The tunnel has been blocked since US 23 was rebuilt. The action tion was taken at the request of Jenkins Independent Schools, which is undertaking a plan that will expand and level the current parking spaces for students and faculty as part of an upgrade to the middle high school.

The council also voted on a resolution to petition the Kentucky Department of Transportation to conduct an inspection of Route 805, US 119, and US 23 in order to address the safety issues caused by the weather ravaged deterioration of the roads. Each of these roads is covered with pot holes and in several spots on each, sections of the road have separated from the rest of the road, creating real hazards. In other road-related business, Depriest reported that the road to Dairy Hollow has been affected by slips and that the city has rock baskets ready to stabilize the hillside when the weather allows it.

Police Chief Joshua Richardson reported that the department has received $1,986 in forfeiture money from two drug cases. Richardson said the money will be used for police equipment. The department issued 13 citations in February, and eight warnings. It made 10 arrests, and issued four summonses. Three arrests were drug related, and two were for domestic violence. There were no DUI arrests for the month. The department answered two collisions with injury and five without injury, and also made four motorist assists.

The city produced 11,794,000 gallons of treated water in February and sold 10,513,000 gallons, for a difference of 1,281,000, or a potential loss of 11 percent. Of that, 442,000 gallons were lost due to a storage tank overflow and 15,000 were attributed to fire department use. That left the city with an unaccounted loss of 814,000 gallons, or seven percent.

The council also approved a request for a roadblock for the Jenkins Middle High School softball team on April 6.

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