After what Mayor Charles Dixon calls four long years of effort, the City of Jenkins has begun work on several water and sewer projects and stands on the brink of getting the centerpiece water line replacement project underway.
At the April meeting of the Jenkins City Council, Matt Curtis of Nesbitt Engineering told the council that the Number Two Bottom Sewer Project is now underway with approximately 2,000 feet of pipe in the ground. The Camden Water Project is ready to begin construction, the bid for the wastewater plant renovation has been awarded to Howard Engineering with a low bid of $384,000, and the crucial water line replacement to completely replace the mishmash of water lines throughout the city is ready to go to bid.
Curtis told the council that negotiating several easements is the only step remaining in the water line replacement, and asked the council to go ahead and vote to authorize the letting of bids.
The council also voted to transfer $19,500 from the City Building Fund to provide sufficient funding to replace the roof at the Burdine Wastewater Plant. Mark Fibus of Nesbitt Engineering told the council that while the city has enough funding to accomplish most of its goals for rehabilitating the plant, it would have to postpone rehabilitating one of the two drying beds and did not have enough to replace the roof.
Curtis also reported that plans for Phase II of the water line replacement are ready for review by the Kentucky Department of Water and asked for a combined meeting of the water department, outside city workers, and the Utilities Commission to ensure that all concerns are addressed before plans are finalized. He said that plans for the Payne Gap Water Project are ready for submission to DOW, but added that Abandoned Mine Lands has yet to do a final approval of areas eligible for funding. Curtis said most if not all of the Payne Gap Project will be eligible for AML funding but said the final report will be necessary for planning.
The council also voted to approve a water line extension and tap for the new RV camping area at Fishpond Lake as part of the Payne Gap project. The tap will allow the city to sell water to the Letcher County Water and Sewer District to service the campground and other needs at the lake.
Curtis also told the council that Nesbitt Engineering is working on plans for a line extension in Marshall’s Branch at the request of EQT. Fifth District Magistrate Wayne Fleming, who represents Jenkins on the Letcher County Fiscal Court, told the council that drilling operations in Marshall’s Branch had caused an oil spill and that EQT had received several reports of well water gone bad. Fleming said EQT has already cleaned up the oil spill and has agreed to pay for the water line extension to the homes with damaged wells.
Fleming, who initiated the transfer of the Payne Gap Water Project from the Letcher County Water and Sewer District to the City of Jenkins by the fiscal court, said the fiscal court will pay for the extension of water lines and a tap for the RV camping area at Fishpond Lake. The transfer of the Payne Gap Project to Jenkins means that homes from Payne Gap to Kona will receive treated water several years in advance of the planning by the county Water and Sewer District. Payne Gap has been plagued with bad water with high sulfur content for well over 50 years.
Fleming also told the council it is important that the situation in Burdine involving a contractor which caused sewage leak that ruined the home of Cindy Gentry be resolved soon. Fleming said Gentry has one year from the date of the incident to get the matter taken care of and there are only two months left in the period. He said he would hate to see the matter go to a lawsuit but that Ms. Gentry will have little choice if the city cannot resolve the matter soon, or she will lose the house and any chance at recovering her losses.
Jenkins Police Chief Adam Swindall reported that his department wrote 27 city citations during the past month, primarily to address problems with trucks hauling from the Mountain Enterprise plant at Burdine that are speeding and spilling gravel on city streets. Swindall said he had spoken to the superintendent of the plant who told him to go ahead and cite the drivers because he had not been able to convince them to obey the law.
Swindall said that Jenkins police officers will enforce the law in Jenkins and will vigorously enforce the new city ordinance concerning occupational and business licenses as well as city stickers. He said the department has done all it can to alert citizens to the need for the licenses and city stickers and that the period of grace on either is now up.