Whitesburg KY

Neon residents told to turn water faucets off when temperature dips below freezing

The bitterly cold temperatures that hit the county earlier this month hit Fleming-Neon residents hard, with almost 40 water leaks occurring in homes and five water meters frozen.

Water Department foreman Chris Banks reported to the Fleming Neon City Council last week that the large number of leaks occurring at the same time contributed to the draining of 650,000 gallons from the city’s five water tanks and caused widespread water outages throughout the city’s water service area.

Banks said that as soon as the tanks began losing water, workers began closing valves to help identify the areas where the leaks were occurring. He said most leaks were in customers’ homes or under their houses. With more freezing weather in the forecast, Banks asked that water customers help the city out by not leaving their water on continually in an attempt to keep it from freezing.

Banks said the water department appreciates reports from customers and encouraged anyone with water problems to contact city workers as soon as the problem appears so it can be addressed quickly. Banks said if citizens call the water plant at 855-7916, it would ring through to his home or to other water department personnel if no one is at the plant to answer the phone.

Councilman Tom Haynes also mentioned ice on city streets from standing water and said most of the water comes from natural runoff such as artesian springs and freezes during the cold weather. Mayor Cheryl Polis agreed and said she believes some of the runoff can be addressed, but added the city has no authority to go onto private property to dig ditches, place pipes, or initiate other measures to take care of the runoff.

In a related matter, Polis announced that former city councilman Lucky Cantrell was appointed chairman of the city’s water and sewer commission after the death of former chairman Tom Boggs. Rinda Vae Bentley has been appointed by Polis and confirmed by unanimous vote of the city council to fill the seat on the commission that was left vacant by the death of Boggs. Water Commissioner Gerard Holbrook, whose term was due to expire soon, has been reappointed.

City resident John Hall addressed the council to complain about the Fleming-Neon Volunteer Fire Department’s policy of not allowing citizens to volunteer if they have a felony conviction that occurred less than seven years ago. Hall said he was dismissed from the department following a criminal records check and added that he had contacted the Kentucky Attorney General’s office about the matter. Hall also said he believes the council should require the department to institute a drug testing policy.

Councilman Haynes, who is also a member of the fire department, told Hall his comments were out of line. Haynes said the department is a separate entity from the city incorporated with its own charter and board of directors. Polis also said the city council has no authority over the department.

Haynes told Hall that if he has a complaint concerning his treatment he should put it in writing and bring it to the regular meeting of the fire department, held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

“I don’t appreciate what you are saying,” said Haynes. “And I don’t think you know what you are talking about. I suggest you talk to (Fire Chief) Carter Bevins.”

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