Water improvement projects dominated the April meeting of the Whitesburg City Council as a bid was awarded for construction of the city’s new raw water intake and the council voted to enter into an agreement to enlarge lines in the Upper Bottom section of the city.
Nesbitt Engineering owner Paul Nesbitt, whose company is working with the city to protect the raw water intake against future contamination in the North Fork of the Kentucky River, told the council that H20 Construction of Pikeville had submitted the low bid of $ 155,000 and recommended it be accepted by the city. The council voted unanimously to award the bid to H2O.
The project will place the raw water intake in a location that will allow the city’s water plant to be shut down before any contaminated water gets to it. Mayor James Wiley Craft said the funds to pay for the work are being made available through the Kentucky Division of Water as part of a $200,000 settlement from a previous instance of oil contamination. Nesbitt said that since the bid was lower than expected, the extra funds would have to be used for intake-related work.
Nesbitt also told the council the state is reclassifying several soil contamination projects and said he has filed the necessary reports for the reclassification of the Southeast Community College Corrective Action Plan for a site near a college building that once housed a Willys Jeep dealership and garage. He said the state has not finished reclassifying the various sites at this time.
Summit Engineering representative Kevin Howard told the council that work on water lines at Texas Avenue in the Upper Bottom is now complete, but the affected area has not been cleaned up. In a related matter, Kentucky River Area Development District representative Annette Napier addressed the council concerning work to enlarge water lines throughout the Upper Bottom. Napier told the council it would need to give Mayor Craft authority to enter into agreement with the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority in order to access state funding that can be used to pay for the work. Councilman John Williams read a resolution authorizing the project and the council voted unanimously to give the mayor the necessary authority to proceed. Napier added that the funding includes a $1,500 administrative fee and the council voted unanimously to engage KRADD to administer the project.
Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill reported that a valve at the city water plant had to be replaced and said a major leak in Cowan has been repaired. He said the leak was caused by county workers cleaning out a ditch behind the Cowan Community Center. In response to a question from Williams, Caudill said everything in the construction area in the Upper Bottom has been graveled and will be paved as soon as possible. Caudill explained that the Upper Bottom project will replace fourinch lines with six-inch lines and will eventually be expanded as funding becomes available to tie the entire neighborhood in to sixinch lines. Caudill said the project will improve water pressure and eliminate dirty water in lines.
District One Magistrate Bobby Howard, who represents the city on the Letcher County Fiscal Court, asked the council to vote to approve turning over cityowned water lines in Cowan to the Letcher County Water and Sewer District in order to extend lines into several hollows that were bypassed when the main line was laid.
Craft said the city does not have access to any funding to do the work itself and a master meter will be placed at the Letcher County Recycling Plant to measure water usage in the Cowan area and the new lines. The council voted unanimously to proceed.
Craft also asked the council to approve opening one road on Tunnel Hill and closing a portion of another in the wake of a major slide on Point View Road. Greg McFall, who owns the land on both sides of the slip, agreed to the closing of Point View Drive at the site of the slide and the council voted to close the affected section and open up Shady Drive to allow for access. Craft said the state Division of Abandoned Mine Lands has filed a request to fund the cleanup which he said will cost about $150,000. AML has said the project will take about a year to get underway.
In other council business:
• Craft announced the opening of a new restaurant on Main Street in Whitesburg in the old Quillen’s Drugstore site, where Hobo’s Diner was recently located. Craft said Knott County restaurateur Carrie Thornsbury will open the restaurant, which Craft said will be similar to another one Thornsbury owns at the Holly Hills Shopping Center in Hindman.
• Craft asked for volunteers to assist with the PRIDE City Clean- Up that will be held on Saturday (April 14) beginning at 10 a.m. at City Hall.
• The council approved a request for a fundraising roadblock for Relay for Life for May 5 from 8 a.m. until noon, and two requests for fundraising roadblocks from the Mountain Shrine Club for June 9 and October 6.