Whitesburg KY

Jenkins OK’s larger community center

The Jenkins City Council has voted to proceed with the construction of a community center to adjoin its swimming pool and restaurant complex, but with one condition — that the footprint of the center be enlarged.

The council made its decision to proceed with the final phase of the swimming pool/restaurant/ community center complex at its July meeting this week. The action came after Whitesburg architect Bill Richardson, who has designed the project since its inception, presented drawings for the community center.

The center will serve as a gathering place, meeting hall, ballroom and concert hall according to Richardson, who said the multipurpose facility will round out the complex and allow the city to stage events that have been impossible to hold in Jenkins since the Elkhorn Country Club was closed.

After Richardson presented the plans for the center, which will serve as a gathering place, meeting hall, ballroom and concert hall, Mayor G.C. Kincer said he was a little disappointed the site wasn’t larger. The rest of the council agreed, saying that if the city is going to do the project, it should do it in style. Richardson said he would have no problem adding to the drawings and the council voted unanimously to ask him to enlarge the scope of the center and bring the plans back to the council for final approval.

Councilman Robert Adams agreed with Kincer, saying that if the council was going to complete the ambitious project, which has so far succeeded well beyond anyone’s expectations, it should “go for it.” Council Member Rebecca Amburgey agreed, saying the city will only do this once, and the benefi ts to Jenkins will be substantial.

Longtime Jenkins businessman Wendell “Butch” Boggs had some suggestions as well, saying that with the added traffic flow from the complex, along with the softball and football field and the expected increase in tourism when the lake walk is compete, it is past time to address speeding on Lakeside Drive, the road that runs alongside Elkhorn Lake. Boggs said the speed limit of 35 m.p.h. is too fast and added that most people ignore it anyway. He called for an increase in enforcement and said that while he knows it is a state road, the state needs to understand that this is pedestrian traffic area that gets a lot of use and the number of pedestrians will only increase as the area gets more use.

Boggs also said he has concerns for motorists in the city with the excessive speeds on Main Street as well. He said that with gravel trucks speeding like they do, an accident is probably inevitable. Boggs suggested a four-way stop at the intersection of Main Street, Lakeside Drive, and the dual entrances to Hardees and Rite Aid.

Boggs said he is not being critical of the enforcement efforts of the Jenkins Police Department, because he understands that offi cers can’t be everywhere at once. Kincer said he asked the Kentucky Department of Transportation to install a red light at the intersection, but was told there haven’t been enough traffic deaths to justify placing one there.

Boggs also mentioned the issue of the lily pads in Jenkins Lake and everyone agreed the pads must go. How to remove them, however, is another question.

Councilman Rick Damron, who has been involved in previous efforts to control the lilies, said the best way to get rid of them permanently would be dredging. However, Damron added that whether they dredge or use herbicides to remove the lilies, the city will have to secure another source for drinking water while the work is done. He said dredging would probably stir up so much sediment that it would damage the newly rehabilitated city water plant.

Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, who works with the city on water and sewer issues, told the council the lilies can’t live in water more than 10 feet deep and if the council chooses to dredge it should make the entire lake deep enough to prevent their re-introduction.

Nesbitt also reported to the council that the Dunham sewer rehabilitation project should be complete by the end of the year and that funds from Abandoned Mine Lands that were left over from the Payne Gap waterline project were used to rehab the city water plant to allow for the increased capacity to serve the city as it grows and to provide for county water customers as well.

Nesbitt said that regardless of how the city addresses the water lilies, it badly needs an alternate source of water and pointed out that in the event of an industrial spill on U.S. 23 contaminating the lake, the city would have to have a second water source. He said the stories he has heard about the Pine Mountain aquifer really interest him, but said the Appalachian Regional Commission declined a proposed grant that would have paid for exploratory drilling in Pine Mountain.

Nesbitt added that design work is complete for waterlines that will serve Dunham and Marshall’s Branch as well.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve the second reading of an ordinance that will permanently move the regular council meeting date from the first Monday of the month to the first Thursday. The date for the next meeting will be August 7, 2014.

City Administrator Todd DePriest said the city treated 15,064,000 gallons of water in June and unaccounted for water losses stood at 28 percent. DePriest said there have been no problems with the new water lines.

DePriest said blue bag recycling efforts are down and added that he thinks the city needs to do a better job not only of educating sanitation customers on the importance of recycling but on the kind of material that can be recycled as well.

DePriest also reported that the Jenkins Police Department answered 79 complaints in June and made six arrests. He said there were also complaints about overgrown lawns and weeds on empty lots.

DePriest said new deck chairs for the swimming pool arrived and more are on order. He added that the pool is “doing great.”

Council Member Amburgey praised the swimming pool staff for its overall work ethic and said she was particularly pleased with the employees’ work at the successful July 4 swimming party and fireworks display. The city provided free watermelon, precision cut with Rick Damron’s watermelon cutter. Amburgey said the cleanup went very well.

Both Adams and Amburgey said the most frequent questions they have received as council members concern the possibility of extending pool hours. Adams said a lot of working people would like to see the pool stay open later so they can swim in the evening and Amburgey said she has spoken to a number of people who said would like to see it stay open longer or open earlier.

Kincer said the pool committee can discuss that when the pool is closed during the winter, but that so many evening parties have been scheduled now, it would be hard to extend the hours.

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