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Water dept. issues dominate W’burg council meeting


The City of Whitesburg is experiencing a drastic improvement with water loss, according to city officials.

At the August meeting of the Whitesburg City Council, Whitesburg Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Dwight Fleming told the council that the city’s water loss had been reduced from a 62 percent loss to a 25 percent loss. Following the meeting, Whitesburg Mayor Tiffany Craft said city personnel had reported water loss of only 17.52 percent for that day.

Fleming told council members the result of the reduction in water loss is tens of thousands of dollars in savings for the city.

“You might not know, but that’s saving you $30-, $40,000 a month,” Fleming said.

Fleming added that the city is also saving on chemical costs, as water plant personnel are only adding chemicals to the city’s water supply every other week rather than weekly as was previously needed. Fleming’s good news at the meeting was followed by a detailed explanation of the hard work being performed by the city’s water treatment plant personnel, as well a plea for additional help at the plant.

Fleming said there are only three employees at the water treatment plant and that those employees are, at times, incurring large amounts of overtime to keep the plant operating. He said it is near impossible for an employee to take time off, as another employee would be required to fill the void, thus accruing more overtime hours.

Fleming complimented the water treatment plant employees, but he asked the council for additional manpower at the plant.

“ We’re tied down so much over there, it’s like being in prison,” Fleming said. “We can’t leave that plant if it’s running.”

Craft asked Fleming how many more employees are needed at the plant, and Fleming responded that, thanks to the reduction in water loss, one more employee would greatly help the situation and relieve some of the stress being experienced by the other water plant employees. Craft told Fleming that the council will look toward hiring at least one more employee for the water treatment plant.

“We’ll help you in any way we can,” Craft said. “Our last conversation that we had was we could hire … we should hire someone else to help, and I have been looking into that.”

Council member Mike Jackson asked Whitesburg Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Jonathan Anderson about staffing concerns at his plant, and he said he, too, would like additional help. Anderson told the council that finding licensed operators is very difficult.

The council took no action on the discussion.

In other business at the August meeting of the Whitesburg City Council, representatives from the Mountain Heritage Festival Committee asked for the council’s blessing in holding the festival, planned for Sept. 20-25 in downtown Whitesburg. Committee member Lee Adams asked the council to again provide its regular $2,000 sponsorship of the festival, which will have a 1990s “throwback” theme and will feature headline musical performances by country music parody artist Cledus T. Judd and country performer Wade Hayes. Adams also said a new event, a glow-in-the-dark golf cart parade will be held the Tuesday of Mountain Heritage week.

Adams told the council that the festival will follow health guidelines established by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and guidance from local health officials.

The council unanimously approved allowing the festival to go forward, as well as providing the $2,000 sponsorship.

Mayor Craft also gave her first report to the council after being appointed to office last month. Craft told the council that city personnel had repainted many of the city’s fire hydrants and that a new side-by-side UTV had been purchased for the city’s emergency response personnel. She also said current Jenkins Police Chief Hunter Holbrook had been hired by the Whitesburg Police Department. Craft had previously said she planned to expand the city’s police force. Hunter Holbrook is the brother of Assistant Whitesburg Police Chief Justin Hunsucker.

Craft also said the city needs to purchase 15 new Dumpsters, as many of the city’s current Dumpsters are in disrepair. She said the Letcher County Vocational School has offered to repair some of the Dumpsters free of charge in order to provide handson projects for the school’s students.

The council also gave final approval for the lease agreement for Bolling’s North Fork Veranda. The agreement will see the city lease the veranda from Mary Bolling and Harold D. Bolling for three years at a cost of $1 per year.

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