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Letters are bogus, Neon officials say

Some Fleming-Neon residents have received bogus letters claiming to be from the Blighted and Deteriorated Property Committee that threaten legal action if the conditions mentioned in the letters are not addressed.

Fleming-Neon Police Chief Mike Dingus told the Fleming-Neon City Council at its July meeting that he has launched an investigation into the letters. He said the conditions mentioned in the letters, which are unsigned but bear the letterhead of the Blighted and Deteriorated Property Committee, do not even fall under the city’s ordinance and that the committee hasn’t met recently and has issued no letters.

“The issues (in the letters) would fall under nuisance, not blighted and deteriorated property,” said Dingus.

Mayor Susie Polis said any complaints concerning blighted and deteriorated property have to come before the council for a vote on any action to be taken. Councilman James D. Collins agreed, saying, “They can’t take any action without our approval.”

Dingus said that whoever issued the letters has committed a criminal violation by impersonating a government official and that charges will be filed when the investigation is complete. Council member Cheryl Furby said it sounded to her like somebody has a neighbor they don’t like, but Mayor Polis said that regardless of the reason, they shouldn’t use the city’s name.

Chief Dingus also reported that the majority of criminal activity in Neon and throughout the county has recently been drug related with arrests for public intoxication, trafficking, and possession. Dingus said he and Officer Tim Miller issued 46 citations, answered 72 complaints and made 18 arrests. They also responded to 18 accidents. New digital cameras are in place in both city police cruisers and are operational. Dingus said the cameras can be downloaded directly to computers for storage of data.

Dingus said the July 4 celebration went off very well and that only one arrest was made the entire day. Mayor Polis and several council members praised everyone involved with the celebration and agreed that the fireworks display that evening was spectacular.

In other business, Water Department Superintendent Carlos Phillips reported that water losses are up slightly for June, but said that early in July workers located and repaired a major leak in the Jackhorn area. Phillips said the leak had gone on for quite a while before finally blowing out where it could be seen on the surface. He estimated that 70 gallons of treated water were lost every minute due to the leak. Phillips said he will have more complete information when the Jackhorn tank is refilled and the lines stabilize.

Phillips told the council that all the equipment for the water and sewer plants purchased through a coal severance tax grant is now here and that emergency back-up generators will be installed on trailers and the generator at the water plant will be moved to a sewer lift station. Phillips reported that work on the Haymond Sewer Project is approximately 35 percent complete and a number of new sewer customers have signed up.

Phillips also said a sewer lift station rebuild at Seco is on hold until he can determine if it will be more economically feasible to rebuild the pump or replace it with a new one. He said if the cost of rebuilding the pump exceeds 60 percent, it will be better to purchase a new one which will come with a warranty of at least one year, as opposed to 90 days for a rebuilt one.

Benita Robinson, who works in the office of Dr. Brenda Baker in Neon, also visited the council to promote a Community Co- Op program to work with schools and communities and facilitate cultural exchanges between local young people and those in other cultures. Robinson said the rich cultural traditions of Appalachia should be exhibited and exchanged with those in other countries and said the experience should enhance education and raise test scores as well.

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