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Jenkins pool to stay closed; cops to watch ATV’s

Jenkins Police will begin watching for infants being carried on all-terrain vehicles on the city streets, and people kayaking on the city’s reservoir without life-jackets.

Jenkins City Councilmember Ernestine Hill said at a meeting this week that she has been informed of a number of instances of people driving four-wheelers in the city with infants on board, usually sitting on the gas tank. She said she has also learned that a number of kayakers on Jenkins Lake are not using life-jackets.

Jenkins has been an “ATV friendly” city since 2011, and residents have complained frequently since then about loud vehicles, underage riders, people driving at high speeds, vehicles without lights at night, and overloaded ATVs. One child died in the city in 2012 after an ATV accident in the city limits in which her father was driving with her, a 3-year-old boy and a 17-year-old all on the vehicle.

Mayor Todd Depriest said he will have the Jenkins Police Department look into the babies on four-wheelers, which is clearly illegal, and explore the city ordinances to see if there is a requirement for life-jackets. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Regulations, state law and federal law all require a Type I, II, or III personal flotation device (PFD) for each passenger onboard on all boats.

In another hit to recreation, the Jenkins City Council learned that the coronavirus pandemic will shut down the city pool for the coming summer. In the council’s first data-stream meeting, Depriest said he had talked with other area leaders who had concluded that it will not be safe to open public pools this year.

The city also began the process of accepting two sizable grants, one that will complete the long running waterline replacement project. The other will pay for bridge renovations of Highway 805.

The council conducted the first reading of Budget Ordinance 252 (A), which allows the city to accept a $1 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for the final completion of waterline replacements in the city. The grant will focus on extending lines to neighborhoods located on steep hillsides, and neighborhoods with only a few houses. This will mark the successful completion of a 20-year project that has eliminated all the many water lines running under the city and consolidating the city’s water service capability into one new system. The council also conducted the first reading of Ordinance 253 that accepts the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s offer to conduct and fund renovation work on two bridges that cross Highway 805. In conjunction with the bridge work, the Cabinet offered the city $775 for easements to conduct the projects. The council voted to accept.

The council also heard the first reading of the city’s budget for 2020-2021. The budget is balanced, with revenue of $2,000,413 and expenditures of $2,000,413. In his budget message, Depriest wrote that it is a difficult task to reduce requests to the level of available revenues, and to “not simply live with it, but be more efficient. With the cooperation of all departments, resources have been deployed in a manner sufficient to meet the city’s needs.” He added that the budget does not provide for any sufficient margin of error or change, and that there is no way to know how the COVID-19 crisis will affect the city. But the virus may cause revenues to be lower than expected.

City Attorney Randall Tackett went over a sheaf of federal requirements with which the city will have to verify compliance in order to accept the ARC grant. They include a “Residential Anti-displacement and Relocation Assistance Plan,” to ensure that anyone whose home is displaced during the water line construction will be provided with relocation assistance. Others include a statement of compliance with the Community Development Block Grant procedure code, a cost overrun resolution, a fair housing resolution, a Drug Free Workplace resolution, a Fair Housing Designation notice that must be signed and run in The Mountain Eagle, and the Kentucky River Area Development District Contract resolution (for administrative services).

The city staff will finalize all necessary paperwork before the June meeting, when the second reading will take place, and the resolution will be legal. City Manager Benny McCall was designated as the city’s Fair Housing official. The council also voted to open two new checking accounts, one for each project. This is standard and keeps grant money separate from general funds.

Depriest praised the cooperative spirit of the citizens of Jenkins. He said a number of people have contacted him with offers of assistance for anyone in need and said this helps to make Jenkins a good place to live. He thanked Jamie Hall for filming the meeting and Roland Brown of the Letcher County Broadband Board for his assistance in getting the meeting on-line through Zoom. The meeting was also filmed for Channel 99 and will be rebroadcast.

Depriest also praised city employees and first responders for their willingness to go beyond the call of duty during the crisis. He also told the council that working with the Kentucky League of Cities, Jenkins is the second city in Kentucky to develop a Post COVID-19 Recovery Plan. The plan addresses safety recommendations and community and business recommendations. The recovery plan, along with a copy of the city budget, will be available at City Hall during regular business hours.

Depriest said he hopes to have City Hall ready to open for regular business within two weeks, and added that any citizen is welcome to call, or send a letter or email with ideas or concerns. Depriest also said that along with other leaders in eastern Kentucky, he will participate in a conference call with Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to address the needs of the region during the COVID-19 Crisis.

The meeting was conducted on Zoom, and will also be rebroadcast on Channel 99 this week.

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