Packs of vicious dogs roaming Letcher County are endangering children and creating a number of problems for county officials. Fifth District Magistrate Wayne Fleming brought up the ongoing dog problem at the September meeting of the Letcher County Fiscal Court. Fleming said it is getting dangerous for children to play outside in some parts of the county because of the vicious dogs, but said there is little parents can do because of state laws that protect dogs more than children in Kentucky. Fleming said his grandchildren can’t play outside at his home in Burdine because of the dogs there.
“In most places here, kids play in front of their houses,” said Fleming. “But they can’t get out and play here anymore because of vicious dogs. The state has passed laws protecting dogs. They are protected more than children.”
County Attorney Harold Bolling said his office has received an increase in complaints about vicious dogs as well, and added that he has issued a number of criminal complaints to dog owners. Judge/ Executive Jim Ward said the problem will not get better until dog and cat owners take advantage of spay and neuter clinics when they are conducted. Second District Magistrate Archie Banks added that once the Letcher County Animal Shelter is opened, it will provide a central location for clinics and other animal issues.
The fiscal court accepted property tax rates from county agencies and set its own rates at the meeting. The court set county tax rates on real property at 11 cents per $100 dollars of real and personal property and 13.7 cents on motor vehicles. Ward explained that this was done by state recommendation using the compensating tax rate to restore revenues. Although the real and personal property rates actually represent an increase of 1.6 cents per $100 over the 2009 rates, Ward said this was not a tax increase made by the fiscal court, but was set at the rate recommended by the Kentucky Department for Local Government to comply with minimum revenue limits by using the compensating tax rate. A letter and document from the Department of Local Government confirm Ward’s statement.
Rates set by other agencies include: Letcher County Soil and Conservation District, 1.1 cents per $100 on real property; Jenkins Independent School District, 75.6 cents per $100 on real and personal property, motor vehicles and watercraft; Letcher County Board of Health, 8.0 cents per $100. on real and personal property and motor vehicles; Letcher County Public Library District, 7.5 cents per $100 on real property, 11.65 cents on personal property, and 5.32 cents for motor vehicles and watercraft; Letcher County Board of Education, 46.9 cents per hundred on real and personal property and 49.6 on motor vehicles and watercraft; and Letcher County Cooperative Extension Service, 4.9 cents per $100 real property, 7.33 cents on personal property, and 3.0 cents on motor vehicles and watercraft. Judge Ward and the magistrates were all adamant that the court only set its tax rates and had no hand in setting those of other county agencies.
Steve Caudill of Bell Engineering gave the court an update on water and sewer progress in the county, and said Letcher County is one of the fastest growing water and sewer districts in the state. He said the county is averaging four to five projects per year and laying about 100,000 feet of water line every year.
Caudill gave the court presentation copies of his report that divided work into several sections. A summary of infrastructure showed the county now has one water treatment plant rated at 3.0 million gallons per day, four pumping stations, five water storage tanks with a total capacity of 640,000 gallons, and a small wastewater collection facility. He said these figures will increase dramatically as several large projects which are ready to begin construction are completed.
The second section listed 19 completed projects including the Knott County Interconnect, which is nearing completion and will be the lynchpin for water capacity for the entire county. Judge Ward said the plan calls for all the water systems in Letcher County to be interlinked so that each can provide water to the others in the event of an emergency. This includes water supplies from Carr Creek Lake, the Pike County Mountain Water District, the City of Jenkins (Jenkins Lake), Blackey (Kentucky River) and the City of Whitesburg (Kentucky River).
Caudill said projects in Cram Creek, Pert Creek, Pine Creek, Bull Creek, and Elk Creek, with project costs of $9,892,000, will be funded by Abandoned Mine Lands and the Deane/Beaver Gap Project with a cost of $2,939,000 is still under study by AML. Other projects in Garner Mountain, Loggy Hollow, Premium (Phase II), and Red Star/Hallie await final funding, as well as Phase II of the Thornton Project and Millstone. A complete report on the September meeting of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District appears elsewhere in this edition of The
In other business, the court heard a report from Jim Scott of the Blighted and Deteriorated Property Committee about responses to ads concerning blighted properties. Scott told the court he has received a number of responses and that 35 houses are now ready for demolition, with others in the works. Scott said each house has been vetted and he has letters from property owners allowing for the demolition. Judge Ward said he will get several companies who have volunteered to lend equipment and personnel together and decide when it is possible to take the houses down. Second District Magistrate Archie Banks, who spearheaded a similar project in his district earlier this year, said that with the equipment it should be possible to demolish most of the houses in one day. The demolition will include taking the houses down, cleaning the property and disposing of the debris.
Emergency Services Coordinator Paul Miles reported on several grant proposals he has in the works. Miles said he has written a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant proposal for the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department for a new vehicle. The grant would pay 75 percent of the costs and the Sheriff ’s Department would be responsible for the other 25 percent. Miles also asked about looking into getting digital radios for county use. He said the City of Whitesburg has gone digital and the radio performance has improved tremendously. The court approved the grant proposal and gave Miles permission to get quotes for digital radio service.
Miles also briefed the court on Search and Rescue exercises conducted this past weekend. He said 35 Search and Rescue Team members turned out and spent the day at Fishpond Lake, along with Channel 98 Director Rick Hall. Miles invited the court and public to view the exercise on the government channel (98) and said it will show the public and court that the trust placed in the Search and Rescue Team has paid off .
Letcher County Tourism Commission Chairman Dr. David Narramore presented the court with brochures created for the Mountain Heritage Festival, which is taking place this week in Whitesburg. Narramore also told the court the commission has received a $10,000 grant from the Center for Rural Development, and an $8,800 grant and a $10,000 flex grant from the Brushy Fork Institute at Berea College, which brings the total of grants received for tourist activities to $40,000. Narramore also presented a seminar on Community Participation and Involvement at the Brushy Fork tourism meetings last week, and Art Menius presented on the commission’s plans for county tours.
“We serve as a model now, instead of being behind like before,” said Narramore.
Narramore added that the commission has been funded through the Center for Rural Development at Somerset to develop a series of applications for smart phones for the Letcher County tour series. He said the commission is taking the lead in tourism and in establishing a tourism-based economy for Letcher County. Narramore told the court Menius has been instrumental in the grant writing activity, and asked that he be employed as a consultant and receive a percentage of each grant he writes. This is a common method of compensating grant writers and the court voted to contract with Menius.
Narramore also announced that Artwalk will be held on October 16 and will feature the unveiling of Kentucky Artist Doug Adams’s sculpture titled “Appalachian Balance.” Peggy Satterly, assistant director of Grants from the Governor’s Office of Local Development, has said she will attend along with DLG Commissioner Tony Wilder.
Winners of the Tourism Commission’s Historic Marker Competition for 2010 are: Laythan Madden, a fifth grader at Letcher Elementary School for the birthplace of Martin Van Buren Bates; Jarrod Stamper of Whitesburg for his submission of Harry Caudill’s last law office in Whitesburg; and one from Hemphill from a student who forgot to sign his paper who wrote about the Coal Miners’ Memorial at Hemphill.
Codell Construction Site Manager Rusty Evans told the court work is proceeding as planned on the county recreation center and everything is on schedule. The court opened two packages which were rebid for roofing and elevator installation for the center and awarded the bids to Dixie Roofing of La- Follette, Tenn., for the roof, and the elevator contract to ThyssenKrupp Elevator, a multinational corporation with offices in Lexington.
In other court business:
• Parks and Recreation Director Derek Barto reported that new restrooms for the soccer fields at the Earnest Cook Memorial Park in Whitesburg are complete and will be ready for use on Friday.
• First District Magistrate Bobby Lewis asked about broadband service for isolated parts of the county. Judge Ward said he had spoken with a number of cables and telephone providers, but none are interested in running the necessary lines to areas where they will have a small customer base.
The court voted to name the following bridges and roads in memory of Letcher County citizens who served in the United States armed forces.
• Bridge on Route 317 at Goose Creek for Private Lonnie Meade, World War II, prisoner of war.
• The state bridge at Roxana for Fireman First Class Raleigh Fields, U.S. Navy.
• Goose Creek Road in Neon for Sergeant Frank P. Wright Sr., World War II, U.S. Army.
• Austin Road in Haymond for Private First Class John Hall, World War II, U.S. Army.
• Bridge at McRoberts Post Office for Sergeant First Class Bill Ellish, U.S. Army.
• Bridge at the junction of HWY 932 and 3405 at Flat Gap for Sergeant Henry E. Sturgill, U.S. Army, World War II.
• Bridge located at the mouth of Master Branch in McRoberts for Sergeant Nathan Wilder, U.S. Army, World War II.
• Lizz-Cott Road in the right fork of Millstone for Private First Class Jimmy Hoskins, Specialist 5 Bobby Hoskins, and Specialist 4 Danny Hoskins.
Bank Balances for County Agencies as of September 9, 2010
• General Fund $353,614.76
• Road and Bridge Fund $1,198,790.23
• Jail Fund $187,151.19
• LGEA Fund $772,623.76
• Senior Citizens Fund $191,066.17
• Forestry Fund $7,694.06
• Letcher County Public Courthouse Funded Depreciation Reserve Account $509,056.09
• Letcher County Public Courthouse Debt Service Account $64,149.28