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Neon council discusses library move, supply of water

The old Hazen Building in Neon may become the new home of the Lillian Webb Memorial Library if the Letcher County Library Board and the Fleming- Neon City Council can reach an agreement later this month.

Fleming-Neon Mayor Susie Polis read a letter from library board members David and Jeanette Ladd thanking Polis for a tour of the building and saying the board might be interested in acquiring the building.

The Ladds asked if the council would make the building available to the entire board for a tour at the board’s March 19 meeting. Polis said that while she understands the library would be named for Mrs. Webb, she hopes the board would consider naming a room for the building’s donor, Nicey Hazen. Hazen, who died last week, was a former Letcher County and Harlan County businessman and served as mayor of Neon and Cumberland.

In other business at the council’s March meeting, Water Department Superintendent Carlos Phillips told the council that the back-up well has made considerable gains to its water level and the main well is rising, but more slowly. He said that while the gains in the main well were “nothing to brag about,” it is holding its own and rising at a slower rate. Phillips said that at the rate rain is falling, it will take several months for the main well to recover fully. He said the water department is still splitting its pumping time between the two in order to keep from putting too much pressure on the main well.

“There is plenty to meet demands,” said Phillips. “The main thing is they’re coming up.”

Mayor Polis asked if it is still necessary to ask that water customers limit their use of water. Polis said she was afraid if they just raised the cautions, people would begin to wash their homes or porches down. Phillips said spring is almost here and he would like to wash his own vehicle. He said it would still be several months before anyone would be filling a pool but he didn’t think it would hurt to wash cars. Council member Cheryl Furby urged continuing conservation. She said if residents could hold off for one more month, it would be a good idea.

“I’d rather take a bath than wash my vehicle,” said Furby.

Phillips replied that unless several hundred people all washed their cars at the same time, he doubted that it would do any harm. He said that people would want to get started with spring cleaning soon and he felt it would pose no problem for the system. Phillips said if the levels do start to drop the water department can issue a request for conservation. He added that people still need to use common sense and not to waste water.

“You mean I can wash the bird droppings off my porch?” asked council member Karen Hall. “It’s getting dangerous.”

Phillips also discussed the possibility of purchasing a flow meter to help locate leaks in the main line. He said the water commissioners wanted to install inline meters but added that a removable flow meter wouldn’t cost more than two main-line meters and that several would be required. He also said that in-line meters would require the line to stay uncovered and that block structures about four feet square would have to be built to protect them. Phillips said the city’s lines run to be near the highway for that to be practical. He also said that while the water plant has been running well, there have been a lot of breakdowns in the sewer plant. Phillips said he recently met with EPA officials in Frankfort and requested an extension to complete repairs on the sewer plant. He said most were complete but there were still a few that needed attention.

A computer breakdown in the water and sewer office has jeopardized the month’s billing, Phillips said. He told the council that there was no electronic backup for several months of records, they did have backup on paper and it would take a while to get records back on-line. Council member Hall cautioned Phillips to see that the computer backup was done on a daily basis in order to be effective.

Police Chief Henry Day told the council the new cruiser will be fully equipped soon. He said the Neon Volunteer Fire Department had offered to equip the first aid kits for the cars and that he had ordered a new computer base for the new Dodge Charger cruiser. Hall asked if it would be striped and bear the city’s logo and Day said he would like the car to be plain. However Hall and Furby agreed that the city should be represented on the vehicle. Furby, a teacher at Letcher County Central, said it gave her a feeling of pride when Fleming Neon Police were first on site at the mock disaster drill held at LCC. The council also voted to advertise the old 1999 LTD Crown Victoria cruiser for surplus and to authorize the purchase of summer uniforms.

Council member David Vanover announced that the city’s annual PRIDE Clean-up will take place April 12, with April 26 as a makeup day in case of rain.

The council also discussed purchasing dilapidated properties in town, but decided to wait until the coal severance tax situation is clarified before proceeding.

Council member Furby told the council she wanted to make it clear to delinquent taxpayers that the city has been contacted by a company that specializes in buying up unpaid taxes. Furby said that while no decision has been reached, the initial contact has been made and it is under consideration.

“Even though we’re just a little coal mining town, there is still some valuable property in town,” said Furby.

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