The Whitesburg City Council and Mayor James Wiley Craft are looking for a way to bring the city’s highly successful “BikeNite” into compliance with state law.
At the council’s May meeting Tuesday, representatives of the Whitesburg Bike Nite committee asked the council for a letter of support from the mayor to include as part of an application to the Kentucky Department of Transportation for a permit to allow the organization to continue to block off Main Street for the event, which is held on designated Saturdays.
Donna Campbell, who served
Donna Campbell, who served as the committee’s spokesperson, told the council that the committee had not known that a permit was required during the seven years the event has been held.
Craft said the matter had only come to his attention last year just as Bike Nite was wrapping up for the season. He said the Kentucky Department of Transportation has notified him that in order to close Main Street, which is a state road, a permit will be required. City Attorney James Asher added that he has spoken with state transportation officials, who told him if the street is to be closed, then police protection, as well as the fire department and an ambulance may also have to be on site.
Craft suggested that the council go ahead and give him permission to sign the letter and act in the city’s behalf, but the council declined to authorize any further action.
City Attorney Asher suggested tabling the matter until he could get more clarification concerning the state’s position and Craft and the council agreed that would be the best course of action. Craft said he has also been told by state officials that if the city wanted to hold the event on the entry ramp coming into the city from Highway 15 and in the Mountain Heritage Village, state regulations would not apply, since it would not affect a state road.
Craft told the committee there have been other complaints concerning Bike Nite, including late night noise and that attendees were not purchasing food from local restaurants but buying it from vendors at the event. Craft said he supports the Bike Nite event and has from the beginning. He pledged to do his best to work out a compromise with the state so that Bike Nite can continue.
Donna Campbell asked Craft if he could get the information he needs as soon as possible so the June 14 scheduled Bike Nite event can be held.
In other business, Craft issued a Declaration of Emergency concerning the ongoing situation with a city water line running across the Kentucky River near the old Craft’s Colly railroad bridge at Ermine. The line has been loose in the water for several years, and has bent at a severe angle because of the force of the river.
Whitesburg Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill has told the city on a number of occasions that it would be disastrous if the line breaks. Craft told the council that by authorizing the Declaration, it gives the city the ability to contract with a company that has already agreed to do a bore underneath the Kentucky River and run a new line for about $25,000. He added that he is in the process of negotiating with EQT to do the bore as a gesture of goodwill. EQT is a natural gas company that does business in Letcher County. Craft said the fact that the pipeline is in imminent danger makes the declaration legal if needed.
There was a mistake in the May 7 edition of The Mountain Eagle concerning an ordinance setting the pay scale for the upcoming mayor and city council members for the session beginning in January 2015.
Eagle reporter William Farley reported that the ordinance sets the pay scale for council members at $9.50 per hour and sets the mayor’s salary at $600 per year. Actually, the mayor’s pay scale is set at $9.50 per hour and the council receives $600 per year.
Council members voted to donate their pay to the Letcher County Kids Day project for 2014.