Whitesburg residents may someday have the choice of whether to heat their homes with natural gas or electricity.
Mayor James W. Craft and the Whitesburg City Council were told this week that enough natural gas is being produced in and around the city to supply a utility that would sell gas to the town’s restaurants and businesses. The question arose Tuesday night after a representative of a Floyd County drilling company approached the council during its April meeting to ask for permission to cross city property with a gas line to fuel a new gas boiler for the Whitesburg hospital.
After discussing the right-of-way matter with Allan Walters of Kinzer Drilling, Craft and Councilman John Williams asked about the possibility of the city turning some of the natural gas produced in Letcher County back to benefit the citizens. Walters told the council the line would cross River Park near the city waterworks. He said the hospital is changing its boiler room to natural gas because of higher electrical costs. The gas will be supplied from a Kinzer-owned well located above Jenkins Road.
Walters also presented the city with a draft lease agreement for property on which the city owns the gas and oil rights, where he said Kinzer hopes to eventually drill a gas well to service the hospital. He told the council Kinzer will pay the city $2.00 per foot of gas line placed across the city’s property, which he said would also give the company the right to use property to maintain the line.
Craft asked how much surface area the right of way would include, but Walters said it was not specifi ed in the proposal. Craft said he understands a 25-foot right of way is the standard and Walters said that could be written into the agreement.
After being informed the right-of-way would be about 11,250 square feet (about .43 acres) by city engineers also attending the meeting, Craft asked Walters, “You want us to sell us that for $2.00 a foot?”
“Just the right of way,” Walters answered.
Although Craft didn’t indicate how much money the city would ask in return for Kinzer the having access to the property, he did tell Walters the entire council is interested in seeing the hospital get a gas line.
“Let me be clear,” said Craft. “We all want the hospital to prosper. I know that putting natural gas in will be a boon.”
Councilman Williams proposed expanding the gas distribution to include the city.
“I wish the city could be a utility,” said Williams. “The Whitesburg Gas Company, buying gas and selling it to our citizens.
Craft asked Walters if the well Kinzer intends to use for the hospital could service the entire city. Walters said the company has other wells nearby which together could easily supply Whitesburg’s needs. Kinzer’s request was then tabled for further study.
The council also:
• voted unanimously to declare a 40×40 parcel of land adjacent to the Letcher County Veteran’s Museum as surplus so it can be sold to the museum for expansion. Darrell Holbrook, representing the museum, told the council the city caboose has been moved off the property as the council had requested.
• voted unanimously to allow WMMT-FM to use city property in the Mountain Heritage Festival area to allow National Public Radio’s “Story Corps” Project to park a mobile recording studio to accommodate Letcher County residents wishing to participate in the oral history project.
• authorized three fundraising roadblocks — May 7 for the Whitesburg Shrine Club; May 14 for Whitaker Bank’s Relay for Life project; and May 21 for the Letcher County Wolves semi-pro football team. The council also voted to ask the Whitesburg Campus of Southeast Community College to propose an alternate date for their Relay for Life roadblock since it conflicted with another request that was submitted earlier.
Mayor Craft thanked all citizens, including the Girl Scouts, who helped with the PRIDE Clean-up last weekend and noted that most of the participants were from out of town. Craft also said the 4-H Club will hold a second clean up to finish the job on April 25 at 4:00 p.m., and asked for public participation.