The City of Whitesburg might finally get some relief from the large amount of raw sewage that runs into the Kentucky River from Craft’s Colly, according to Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward.
At the October meeting of the Board of Directors of the Letcher County Water and Sewer District, Ward announced the county government is looking at getting funding for a sewer project for Craft’s Colly to help clean up the water that runs into the Whitesburg raw water intake. He said it is a win for city and county in that the district will continue to purchase a good deal of water from the city’s system to serve its customers and it will help to lower treatment costs for the Whitesburg Water Plant.
“I’ve checked on funding,” said Ward. “I think we can get it.”
Ward told the board that providing clean drinking water for every citizen in the county remains a top priority of the entire Letcher County Fiscal Court and said he is very pleased at the amount of funding the county has received from Abandoned Mine Lands (AML).
Steve Caudill of Bell Engineering said Letcher County has received over half of AML’s funding for the last three years and Ward said that with the funding from AML, the county has been able to make huge strides in creating a system to bring water to the citizens.
“You have to make the effort,” said Ward. “We’re just about at the mark where we can start breaking even. We’ re working with the state legislature as well as AML.”
Ward said it’s always hard to know what will get funded so it is important to put water and sewer projects in front of the legislators and make them aware of the need in Letcher County.
Caudill reported on the progress of water projects throughout the county and said Phase I of the Deane Project is in service and accepting customers. A change order to use unspent Phase I funds to allow contractors to extend lines to the mouth of Willis Branch began October 2. Deane Phase II has been approved by the Kentucky Division of Water and will go to bid when a tank site and pump station are approved.
Bidding for line extensions in Mill Creek and Shelby Fork will take place in the fourth quarter of 2012 as soon as the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) gives its final approval. Ward said he has spoken with KIA officials and the review committee will meet on November 13 and he expects final approval to be granted then.
Phase I of the Pert Creek/Pine Creek/Cram Creek Project will be finished in February 2013 and AML is working on authorization to proceed with bidding Phase II. The district has altered the design of the Bull Creek/ Elk Creek Project to allow as many people as possible to be served with $500,000 in KIA funding its has now, until AML funding becomes available. AML hasn’t finalized its review of the Loggy Hollow Project and the Big Cowan Side Roads Project waits AML approval as well. The board gave Bell Engineering permission to proceed with bids on Premium Phase II which will extend lines from Beetree Branch to the intersection of Highway 160 and Highway 58. The USDA Rural Development Agency is in the final process of allocating $500,000 in funding through the Appalachian Regional Commission for Premium Phase II. The Cumberland River Project and Gordon Hwy. 510 projects also await a determination on AML funding.
Superintendent Mark Lewis asked about a request from Mill Creek for the district to supply residents temporarily from a hydrant, but Board Chairman Bernard Watts said he had looked into the matter and the district will have to get approval from the Public Service Commission in order to supply the Mill Creek residents. Lewis also said he has been told there could be legal difficulties if the district supplies one group at no charge and not others.
Lewis also reported that Hazard accountant Chris Gooch has completed the district’s audit but has not said if he plans to attend a meeting of the board to present it. He said Gooch’s office has given him no indication he will present the report to the board. Lewis also said that the newly purchased accounting software has a deficiency in computing payroll for district workers and the district received a $5,000 refund from the software company. Board member Billy Stamper said the software isn’t compatible with QuickBooks, the software the district uses for payroll, but other than that it works well on billing.
Board Chairman Watts told the board that according to an agreement in the original contract negotiations with Mark Lewis, it was time to consider a raise and made a motion to raise Lewis’s salary of $45,000 to $48,000. Watts said that when Lewis was hired, the district had been in a nearly impossible situation to find a person who could manage the system and Lewis had all four certifications that are required. He said Lewis has done an excellent job and has saved the district about $40,000 in overtime costs since he came. Billy Stamper seconded the motion and the vote to approve the raise was unanimous.
Stamper asked about the status of Vaughn and Melton, engineers for the Cumberland River Project. He said the district needs to get the status clear as things begin to move toward bids. Lewis said Vaughn and Melton have been paid in full for the work they did and Judge Ward said the design work for Phase I is compete except for some problems on Flat Gap.
Lewis reported that the district has prosecuted two more individuals for theft of treated water and said each was fined $350.