The former Ermine Post Office building and property are now located in the City of Whitesburg.
At the November meeting of the Whitesburg City Council on Tuesday, Letcher County Surveyor Richard Hall presented the official survey and property description to the council and Mayor James Wiley Craft reported that the property owner, Caudill Lumber of Whitesburg, had agreed to the property being annexed.
Craft told the council the property had been bypassed when the rest of the area was annexed because federal law prevented two U.S. post offices being located in a city the size of Whitesburg. However, the Ermine Post Office was closed in the last round of post office closings conducted by the U.S. Postal Service and the Fleming-Neon Volunteer Fire Department would like to use the building for an ambulance station to comply with its contract to station an ambulance within city limits.
In other business, the council heard a report from Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering concerning the equipment that will be used to build the new water intake system. Nesbitt said the equipment has arrived and is stored at the warehouse belonging to H2O, the contractor for the project. Nesbitt told the council the rest of the parts and equipment should be in by the first week of December and construction should be underway by the council’s December meeting. Nesbitt said he anticipates a January completion date. The council voted unanimously to pay invoices for the equipment that was received and for engineering services for a combined total of just over $17,000.
Nesbitt also told the council he and Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill inspected the city water plant with an eye toward expanding the capacity to produce water. He said the plant was designed with that in mind and it would be possible to double the output of the plant by expanding the pumps and treatment machinery, but it would not require a great deal of major construction like replacing lines. Nesbitt estimated the cost to be about $3.5 million, but said it would take a more careful appraisal to be certain. Mayor James Wiley Craft asked Nesbitt to go ahead and have his grants people begin working to acquire the necessary funds. The plant has nearly reached capacity and the city was warned by the Kentucky Department of Water several years ago that it would have to be expanded if it is to take on many new customers.
Caudill also told the council that the city added four new customers within city limits and said federal environmental representatives will be coming to town to inspect the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Caudill said the Kentucky Department of Water informed him it had recommended Whitesburg because the wastewater treatment plant is new and everything is in compliance.
Mayor Craft asked the council for permission to advertise for bids to repair the roof on the Hogg Allied Health Building at the Whitesburg campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC). Craft said the city has been aware that the roof is in bad shape for a while and he received a letter several months ago from Dr. Bruce Ayers of SKTC, saying the college would repair the roof if the city would turn the building over to the college. However, the council chose not to surrender the building and Craft said he has gotten an estimate that the repairs will cost about $49,000. He said the college pays the city $2,000 a month in rent for the building. Craft said he has come up with about $44,000 for the work and asked the council to approve advertising for bids. The council voted unanimously to approve his request.
Craft announced that the city’s Christmas Parade will be held on Friday, December 14, at 5:30 p.m. Floats and participants will line up at 5 p.m. Craft said the Rev. Tony Brown of the Whitesburg First Baptist Church will be the grand marshal of the parade.
Craft asked the council’s approval to continue the tradition of purchasing a $25 gift card for each city employee for a ham or turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner and asked the members to approve purchasing a ham for city employees for Christmas as well. The vote was unanimous to approve the request.
Craft told the council the city received the first alcohol tax check from Food City and the amount was $640 for three weeks of beer sales. He added that Wal-Mart received its beer license last Friday. The mayor praised the women of city hall for decorating to participate in the Paint The Town Pink event to increase breast cancer awareness. The sponsor, Zeta Zeta Sorority, awarded city hall the prize for Outstanding Community Support.
Craft also introduced the council’s newest member, Thomas Sexton. Sexton was elected in the November election.