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Mayor Craft: City will see many improvements ahead


Whitesburg Fire Department is significantly impaired when the electricity is off at the firehouse, Mayor James Wiley Craft told the Whitesburg City Council at its March meeting.

The department has no way to communicate when the power is off, and the firehouse garage doors have to be manually opened.

Craft said he has instructed Fire Chief Perry Fowler to have a Generac generator installed to power the fire hall and the truck bays when there is no electricity. Craft said the work should be completed by the middle of April and the city will install another generator to create a warming space in city hall and the fire station for people who have been displaced because of bad weather.

Craft also said he plans to modernize city hall to cut heating and cooling costs, and the city will put a new fence around the walking track.The work will be paid for out of the city’s general fund, which will see significant savings from loan forgiveness on several upcoming projects, and also from grants that will pay for needed work that the city would otherwise have to pay for on its own.

He said the Tunnel Hill water tank, priced at $1.2 million, will only cost the city $300,000, and added that the city has needed the tank for years. He said he is hoping for 100 percent funding to replace the water line that runs along the KY 15 Bypass. Half the $1.8 million cost of rehabilitating one of the city’s sewer lift stations will also be forgiven.The splash pad at the city swimming pool, which will replace the kiddy pool, will be paid for with a $100,000 grant and will be installed by the time the pool opens this spring.

Craft also announced the opening of two new restaurants and the re-location of a longtime standard. Pacos, which has one location in Jenkins, has opened a Whitesburg location in the former Dawahare’s space on Main Street, and Kentucky Fried Chicken will open a new restaurant in West Whitesburg. Dairy Queen is building a new restaurant on the site of the old Lowe’s store, next to the school bus garage.

Councilman Derek Barto asked Craft if the council could discuss the annexation of the upper part of Solomon. He said he would like to see some movement on that project and didn’t want to wait any longer. Craft said the city is still trying to locate all of the property owners to give them notice of the proposed annexation, and a survey of residents needs to be re-taken.

Craft said the city is still waiting to hear from the Appalachian Regional Commission about a grant that will pay for the Daniel Boone Hotel project. “It is not a dead issue.”

He added that the city is finally in a position to get some things done that have needed to be done for a long time. Sheila Shortt told the council that a woman had approached her and said her water had been so bad it had ruined her wash. Craft said that problem will be addressed.

Shortt also asked about Bike Nite, and if it would start in May. Craft said he hasn’t heard yet, but added that it is an important event for the city.

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