Whitesburg KY

Jenkins seeking help, answers to water woes

Water issues were the main subject of discussion at the November meeting of the Jenkins City Council. In his monthly report, Mayor Charles Dixon once again asked the citizens of Jenkins to work to conserve water. Dixon also reported on ongoing efforts to obtain funding or other aid in dredging Jenkins Lake, which he said would increase the city’s water capacity by millions of gallons. Dixon presented the council with a response from Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to a request from Dixon for aid in dredging the lake. In McConnell’s reply, he wrote that since Jenkins Lake is not a federal facility, the Army Corps of Engineers could not help the city and suggested the mayor contact the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to inquire about state resources for dredging the lake.

Water Department Superintendent Bo Hopkins reported an unaccounted for loss of treated water of 8,903,000 gallons, or 62.9 percent of all treated water produced by the city. He said the good news was that accounting procedures for computing water loss were more accurate. Hopkins said although city workers have fixed a number of leaks, he has no idea where the water is going. However, Hopkins said he believes the large amount of lost water may come from old water lines which run to abandoned coal mines. Hopkins told the council that by now it is possible that cut-off valves have rusted out and water may be lost from them. He said the only way to determine where the water loss is occurring is to isolate individual sections of line by using bypass valves at the beginning of every section of line running off the main line. In response to a question from council member Terry Braddock, Hopkins estimated the loss of revenue to the city from water loss is around $19,000 per month. Council member Linda Baldwin said the water loss situation has been going on for the six years she has been on the council and hasn’t gotten any better.

“We produce twice as much as we sell,” said Baldwin. “We’re throwing good money after bad.”

After hearing Hopkins describe the Jenkins system as a spider web of water lines, with some lines still in use from the city’s inception in 1908, Jenkins resident Mike Chavis suggested the council concentrate on finding funding to do a complete overhaul of the water system and not use any of the old lines. Council member Chuck Anderson said while it is good to serve new areas such as the newly installed lines in Joes Branch, it won’t do the city much good if it can’t supply water to its existing customers due to leaks. Anderson suggested the council and Utilities Commission schedule a meeting with City Engineer Paul Nesbitt to discuss funding sources and the possibility of a large scale project.

Hopkins also told the council that water had been pumped from the old Consol 207 Mine in Dunham three times in October due to drought conditions. The 207 mine is one of several back-up sources for the city. He said recent rains have helped restore water levels in Jenkins Lake to some degree. Hopkins said the mine is good for pumping for about three days and after that it takes it about a week to recover. He said state and federal agencies are starting to look into municipalities with excessive water losses, and he expects they will get around to Jenkins soon. Mayor Dixon suggested Jenkins residents contact their state and federal legislators to request help with the water situation.

Fire Chief Rick Corbett reported the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department now has 165 runs for the year. JVFD answered two structure fires in October and several forest fires. Corbett said activity was up for the month.

Police Chief Jim Stephens reported that city police officers answered 170 complaints, made 14 arrests, served four warrants, and made one DUI arrest. Stephens said Jenkins police officers conducted an Active Shooters Training session at Jenkins High School in response to several school shootings around the United States in recent months. There were no problems with Halloween or Safe Night in the city. Stephens said he has received a number of compliments from citizens about the increased patrol activity of officers. He said citizen contacts are up due to the increased visibility from the patrols.

In other business, the council received a comprehensive report from Sarah Tackett Brown of the Blighted and Deteriorated Property Committee. Brown told the council that committee member Quinn Bolling had helped obtain some corporate funding and the committee plans to use it to do an ad campaign on recycling and educational outreach. Brown presented the council with a list of 21 properties which have been turned over to the council for initial notification as of October 25. The council also voted unanimously to place the old Jenkins Furniture Company located in East Jenkins on the list.

Several council members spoke favorably about the recent Halloween Safe Night and council member Baldwin made a motion that the Jenkins Homecoming Festival Committee be allowed to once again keep its own books and manage its funds. However, City Attorney Randall Tackett cautioned the council about singling out one specific committee for action and reminded the council that the committee ordinance passed in January covered all city committees. Tackett asked council members to carefully consider the ramifications of allowing one committee to manage its own funds in light of the comprehensive nature of the ordinance. Baldwin withdrew the motion until the matter could be further discussed.

The council also: • Conducted the first reading of the updated city sticker ordinance which will raise the cost of city stickers from $8 to $10. Dunham resident Paul Fleming complained that the raise penalizes those who regularly purchase city stickers while few penalties are levied against those who don’t purchase the stickers. Mayor Dixon said that in the past months Jenkins police officers have held road checks for city stickers and cited residents who don’t have them.

• Amended the city budget to receive $100,000 in road bond funds.

• Accepted Mid State Equipment’s bid for $7,050 for a new recycling bin.

• Voted to re-bid a sidewalk from the Jenkins football field to the site of the old Phillips 66 station as a safe schools route. The original ad received no bids.

• Learned that the Jenkins Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, December 1, at 6 p.m. The theme is Home for the Holidays. Anyone interested in entering a float should call city hall.

• Voted unanimously to accept a change order on the Mountain Water District connector project to provide a bypass valve and three cut-off valves.

• Learned that City Attorney Tackett has filed three lawsuits to recover back taxes and filed two lawsuits concerning property deemed to be blighted and deteriorated.

• Went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter. No action was taken.

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