The Jenkins City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance revoking the city’s “motor vehicle tax sticker law” at its September meeting this week.
City Attorney Randall Tackett conducted the reading and said that since this was the first reading of a proposed new ordinance the council could revise it. He asked about pursuing those who are currently in violation of old sticker law even after it is no longer in effect. The law currently requires all citizens owning or operating a motor vehicle within city limits to purchase a city sticker.
Several council members expressed resentment that those who have willfully flaunted the law while others have obeyed it would go unpunished, but Rebecca Amburgey said it would probably cost the city more to pursue the violators than it would to just stop the sticker requirement after December 31, when the new ordinance will go into effect. The council voted unanimously to forgo penalties after that time. Tackett said those who are in violation of the law could still be cited until the end of 2013.
In other business, the council learned that the Appalachian Regional Hospital Clinic in Jenkins will change its hours to accommodate the wishes of people who participated in a community survey required by the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. Whitesburg ARH CEO Dena Sparkman told the council that in order to raise attendance rates at the clinic as well as to comply with the wishes expressed in the survey, the clinic will now hold “after hours” sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays, when it will stay open through 7:30 p.m. She added that regular hours will be observed from 9 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. Thursdays will be “short days” to give workers a regular 40-hour week.
Mayor G.C. Kincer remarked that the ARH Clinic is very important to the city, as is the billing office that is located on the third floor of the clinic building, which formerly housed the Jenkins Clinic Hospital. Sparkman told the council that central billing for the entire ARH chain is now handled at the Jenkins site.
The council also viewed a slide show of the proposed design of the Jenkins Lake Walk. The slide show was presented by architect Bill Richardson of Richardson Associates of Whitesburg and shows a one-mile-long walk along Elkhorn Lake, with a boardwalk on the side away from the residential section. The project will include the sidewalk on the residential side in the Lake Walk as well. The presentation featured panoramic shots of the lake from both sides, and Richardson pointed out the view of Pound Gap with its historic and geological importance as being clearly visible from the walk.
Richardson said the Lake Walk will not only tie in with the city’s new swimming pool, but will also be connected with the Pine Mountain Linear State Park via a trail that will connect through Goodwater Street.
Mayor Kincer added that Virginia Tech University has chosen Jenkins as one of four cities to work with on tie-ins to the trail and said the assistance will be extremely valuable to the city. Kincer said he believes Jenkins is on the right track in highlighting its historical aspects as well as its natural beauty for economic development. He added that he hopes the improvements that have recently been accomplished, as well as those that are in the making, will attract restaurants and hotels to the city.
Police Chief Roland Craft told the council that August had been a busy month for the Jenkins Police Department with all the events happening in the city, culminating with the Jenkins Homecoming Festival. Craft said 22 citations resulting in arrests were issued and 12 warrants were processed.
Craft added that the department has recently responded to several complaints involving dogs and said that although he has received assistance from the county dog warden, the problem is growing. Craft reminded residents of the city that the law requires that dogs be leashed or controlled and that dogs are not allowed to roam freely in the city limits.
Mayor Kincer pointed to two pages from the city’s nuisance ordinance that was included in the packet given to council members and the press which states that “the failure to keep an animal’s pen, yard, lot or other enclosure in a sanitary condition and free from offensive odors” is also a violation, as are barking dogs that continually disturb neighbors.
Chief Craft praised the city’s new online camera system that allows officers to monitor city streets by computer from City Hall. He said the system has already resulted in one arrest and said it will more than pay for itself in crime prevention. Craft said Jenkins police officers will be participating in in-service training in the coming month and those who don’t have to train will probably work overtime to make up for the trainees being away. Jenkins officers accumulated between 3,000 and 3,500 miles in patrol mileage in August.
Paul Nesbitt, owner of Nesbitt Engineering, announced that the city received and opened bids for restoration and expansion work on the city water plant, including the replacement of filter media and extension of lines to the water tank that will serve county customers as part of the Payne Gap water project. Nesbitt said the low bid of $336,387 was submitted by Herrick Company of Lawrenceburg and recommended it be accepted by the city. The council followed Nesbitt’s advice by unanimous vote. Nesbitt said Herrick specializes in refurbishing water plants that are already in service.
Also during this week’s meeting, council members expressed enthusiasm about the new Jenkins Swimming Pool on Lakeside. City Manager Todd DePriest said the pool’s heater will be installed very soon to allow for it to stay open as long as the weather allows. DePriest said the holdup on the heater was installing a propane nozzle. The plan is for the heater to be fueled by natural gas, but lines have not been laid yet so propane will be used in the interim. Kincer said work on the community center/restaurant at the pool will continue as long as funds hold out or until it is finished.
DePriest reported that the city manufactured 16,395,000 gallons of treated water in August and sold 4,717,000, including 614,000 gallons sold to county customers as part of the Payne Gap Water Project, for a difference of 11,678,000, or a loss of 71 percent. Of that, 5,713,000 gallons were accounted for, leaving an unaccounted for loss of 36 percent. The city also transported 134 tons of garbage to the landfill for a savings of $500.
In other business:
• A discussion of a 401K plan for city workers was postponed until a 401K specialist could attend a meeting.
• City Revenue Officer Benny McCall told the council that yearto date revenue from the city payroll tax stands at $114,751.32.
• The Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department has a new rescue truck on the road and will be holding fund drives to pay for the expenses of refurbishing it.