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Rumors fly after Jenkins council meets

A closed meeting held by the Jenkins City Council to discuss a personnel matter led to reports that the city is firing one of its police offi cers. The reports could not be confirmed or denied before Mountain Eagle press time.

Rumors began circulating soon after the council emerged from executive session at its February meeting Monday after it had met privately to discuss what it said was an employee disciplinary issue. The council did not take formal action after the session, but did authorize Mayor G.C. Kincer to study the matter at hand and report back to the council with his recommendation.

Kincer could not be reached for comment Tuesday. However, a city employee who answered the phone at Jenkins City Hall said no changes have been made in the police department that she knew of.

In other business, the council voted Monday to form a study group to explore the possibility of creating a special tax district at the Gateway Industrial Park in the hope of attracting more business to the area. City Attorney Randall Tackett addressed the council on behalf of Mayor G.C. Kincer and told the members the city has limited options in offering incentives to prospective business clientele, but a special tax district is one that is available to them.

The council authorized the creation of a study group consisting of Tackett, Revenue Officer Benny McCall, and a representative of Kentucky Power Co., which holds the city electrical power franchise, to study the matter and report back to the council. Tackett said the city does not have any program to attract industry and said the council must ask two questions as it proceed: “Can we afford it? Can we afford not to do it?”

Tackett said attracting new business to the park would help the entire county and added that the charter of Gateway Industrial Park as it is now written has specific uses designated for the park.

The council also heard a proposal from Wise County, Virginia restaurateur Greg Clisso concerning the restaurant that will be located in the community center. Clisso told the council he likes the location and site, but added that it will require a larger kitchen and “hood” space in order to have a full service restaurant. Clisso has successfully operated several restaurants and a catering business, as well as manufacturing his own “Chef G.W. Clisso’s Mountain Ranch” salad dressing.

Clisso said he believes the kind of restaurant he has in mind will draw customers from surrounding counties in Kentucky and Virginia and should enhance the city’s efforts to draw tourists. He showed council members a menu and said he believes the adjacent swimming pool would complement the restaurant. He said the nighttime ambiance of the pool and deck would enhance the dining experience.

City Manager Todd De- Priest told the council he has spoken with contractors and the enhancements Clisso discussed would cost the city about $25,000. Clisso said that whether he or another person operates it, the changes would be necessary to have a full service restaurant. Clisso said he would expect the business to bring about 20 to 25 jobs to the city.

In a related matter, De- Priest reported to the council that the dining room and kitchen at the community center are complete, windows and doors are installed, and the pizza shop is open.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to adopt several ordinances that will allow the city to participate with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency to secure $597,000 through bond sales for the restoration of city sewers in Dunham. City Attorney Tackett conducted the second reading of the ordinances and the council voted unanimously to approve them.

Jason Monday, membership sales manager for Wings Air Rescue, approached the council to discuss an opportunity for the city to participate in the Air Medical Care Network, which could allow for Jenkins residents to have access to medical helicopter flights at no cost. Monday said that even for people with good insurance, the out-ofpocket cost for medical evacuation flights usually runs between $10,000 and $15,000, and for those without insurance the cost is between $20,000 and $25,000. He said that the network, which was developed by Wings and other medical air service providers, is an attempt to provide a steady flow of income for the air services and help to defray the costs to people who receive their services. He emphasized that the network is not an insurance plan, but a membership organization that is designed to help the air services pay their costs and help people in their service area with the cost of the flights.

Monday said the cost for the city to cover its entire population would amount to $5.30 per household, or $11,668 per year. The coverage would work with existing insurance plans, including Medicare, to provide medial flights at no cost. Monday said the program offers individual plans for $65 per year for single families and can accommodate groups as large as entire counties or corporations.

The city plowed roads for five days in January and used 75 tons of salt. The sanitation department took 118 tons of garbage to the land fill and collected 580 “blue bags” of recyclable material. The Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department made 33 emergency runs, including six runs for fires in January. Volunteer Firemen Roy Triplett and Ben Burke have completed their first 150 hours of training. Applicants for an open position with the Jenkins Police Department will be tested this coming weekend.

In other council business:

• The council praised the hard work and dedication of city workers during the recent extreme weather. DePriest said the city workers worked round the clock and maintained high spirits in extreme conditions. He added that the city’s new salt spreader/snow plow truck is ready to go.

• The council voted unanimously to declare a Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser (year undetermined) as surplus.

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