Whitesburg KY

Magistrate questions city’s payroll tax

The Letcher Fiscal Court has asked County Attorney Jaime Hatton to explore the possibility of getting some type of an exemption from the new City of Whitesburg payroll tax for magistrates who do not spend most of their time in the city.

District Four Magistrate Keith Adams brought up the issue in the closing minutes of the fiscal court’s October meeting on Monday night. Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward said that while he understands that employees at the courthouse and other county employees who work in the city limits are subject to the tax, he questions whether the magistrates should have to pay the entire tax when most of them work out of their homes or offices in their districts and are only in the city for meetings.

In other business, the court heard from Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation representatives Zack Sturgill and Melinda Sexton, who have been trained to help sign people up for kynect: Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection under the Affordable Care Act. Both are certified kynector/ Certified Application Counselors.

Sturgill and Sexton said they are available nearly full-time in the lobby of MCHC’s Whitesburg Medical Clinic to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and kynect. They added that there is a lot of false information circulating about the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

Sturgill and Sexton explained to the court that sign-up tables are also in MCHC clinics in Buckhorn, Leatherwood, Owsley County, and Harlan. Sexton said it usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes to sign someone up and it can be done over the telephone. The enrollment period began October 1 and ends March 31. Interested parties can contact Sturgill or Sexton at the clinic or by phone. Sturgill’s land line number is (606) 633-4823 and his cell phone number is (606) 634- 5180. Sexton can be reached at (606) 476-2593 or by cell at (606) 634-8613.

The court signed a service contract with Tri-State Electronics to provide infrastructure and to service the county’s 911 paging and radio systems. Cary Johnson of Tri-State told the court that rather than being paid by the call as he is now, all labor costs and replacement parts will be covered for repeaters and amplifiers at the Jenkins, Whitesburg, and Hallie tower sites, including repairing damage done by lightning strikes. Johnson said he intends to invest about $20,000 on equipment for Letcher County as soon as the contract is finalized. The cost to the county will be $18,000 per year. It does not include the actual radio units in county vehicles and equipment or first responder vehicles, but Judge Ward asked Johnson to draw up an estimate for a separate contract to cover radios and handheld communication devices.

Kentucky Heritage artist Doug Adams addressed the court members and told them he is donating his sculpture titled Jacob’s Ladder to the county. The artwork is at the bottom of the steps of the old Whitesburg High School and Judge Ward praised Adams for his generosity and willingness to add to the community. Tourism Commissioner David Narramore also praised Adams and said Adams has been very generous with his time in doing things that help add to the county and the cities.

Narramore told the court that the final meeting to seek input on public art projects in Letcher County communities will be held at Fleming-Neon City Hall November 12 at 6:30 p.m. The Jenkins project will be presented to the Jenkins City Council at its November 4 meeting, which is at City Hall at 7 p.m., and the Blackey meeting was held October 10. The Isom meeting was held October 17.

Narramore told the court an AmeriCorps team will come to Letcher County on October 24 and will stay until December 3 to work on developing walking trails in conjunction with the Pine Mountain Trail. Narramore also said the tourism commission is accepting dates for the annual schedule of events and asked that dates and descriptions of events be sent to him by e-mail at dnarramore@bellsouth.net.

Ward also read a proclamation in honor of Letcher County Master Musician Lee Sexton. Sexton is a na- tionally recognized banjo master and a recipient of the Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts. He has been the subject of several documentary films by Appalshop that have been screened nationally and on Kentucky Educational Television. Ward said Sexton’s first banjo was a handmade fretless model with a groundhog skin stretched on the frame to act as a resonator.

The court voted unanimously to send a resolution to the Kentucky General Assembly asking that the distribution of coal severance taxes be done in a more equitable manner with the formula changed to allow more money to be returned to the counties where coal is actually produced. After County Attorney Hatton read the resolution, Ward said it is outrageous that so much coal severance tax money goes into the state’s General Fund or is used for projects in places that don’t produce coal or are not impacted by it in any way.

The following bridges and roads were named for Letcher County veterans: Raspberry Road at Craft’s Colly to Tech 5 Remious Day Sr., U.S. Army, World War II and to Specialist 4 Remious Day Jr., U.S. Army, Vietnam; Highway 1469, mile point 0 to mile point .02 as Private Sterling King and Corporal Denver King Memorial Road; Gallup Drive at UZ to Private James Banks, U.S. Army, Battery A, 68th Field Artillery, 95th Division, World War I; Grace Drive at McRoberts to Specialist Bennett Lee Stines, U.S. Army, Vietnam; Sheas Fork at McRoberts to Private First Class Cecil Stines, U.S. Army, World War II; Kingdom Come Bridge at Kingdom Come to Staff Sergeant John Bedwell, U.S. Army; and the bridge leading to the Jenkins Elementary School at 11497 Highway 805 to Master Sergeant Kelly W. Phipps, United States Air Force.

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