Whitesburg KY
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Water loss troubles Neon city officials

With drought conditions still in effect and water levels low, several members of the Fleming- Neon City Council expressed concerns about a rise in water losses, particularly unaccounted loss, at the council’s November meeting.

Council member Cheryl Furby told the council she was concerned about water pooling on the surface from leaks while unaccounted water losses have risen to 35 percent. Council member Karen Hall agreed and added that the water being lost was treated water which the city had already paid to process into drinking water.

Water Department Superintendent Carlos Phillips was not at the meeting to explain the water losses, but Mayor Susie Polis referred to the recent situation in Whitesburg where both city and county customers were unable to use their water for several days as an example of how important a steady supply of safe water is. Council member James D. Collins pointed out that the water department had lost water at the rate of 86,639 gallons per day in October, or 62 gallons a minute. Furby said that the actual total of water loss was 48 percent of all treated water by combining accounted for and unaccounted for losses. Collins asked if Kentucky Rural Water hadn’t been scheduled to come to Neon and work with the water department to find and repair leaks.

“How many times have we heard that?” asked Furby.

Mayor Polis told the council she would contact members of the water board and try to arrange a meeting between council members and water board members. Several council members also suggested attending the next water board meeting to find out more about the situation.

The council also discussed ways of turning the old Hazen building on Main Street into a vendor’s mall to possibly turn a liability into a revenue generator. The building, which was given to the city by the Hazen family, has fallen into disrepair and several options have been discussed in the past to either get rid of the building or try to restore it for other uses. Mayor Polis and Cheryl Furby told the council about a visit they recently made to vendor’s malls in UZ and Isom and discussed the possibility of doing something similar in Neon. Furby said both malls were doing a brisk business and workers at one told her they charge vendors $85 to market their merchandise. She said the vendor leaves the merchandise at the mall and a staff worker actually handles the sale.

Mayor Polis said it would take grant money to restore the Hazen building to the point where it could be used for a vendor’s mall, but Karen Hall reminded her that the property had previously been offered to the Letcher County Library Board as a possible location for a new library to serve the city. Hall suggested contacting the board to see if it is still interested in the property before proceeding.

City Attorney James Wiley Craft II told the council that if the library board is no longer interested it would probably be best to declare it surplus and try to sell it rather than go to the expense of restoring it.

“We’re trying to give it away now,” replied Hall.

Craft told the council the best option for attracting visitors to the city and creating revenue would be to have a farmer’s market in the lot in front of the city’s stage area. Craft said this could be accomplished at no expense to the city and would attract a regular flow of people to town to purchase farm produce.

In other council business:

• The Police Report was tabled in the absence of Chief Henry Day.

• Mayor Polis told the council the old Dollar Store in downtown Neon has fallen into disrepair and is being vandalized. She said the property belongs to Herma Rose Bates and there are back taxes on it as well. City Attorney Craft suggested they start proceedings under the city’s Blighted and Deteriorated Property Ordinance. Several council members asked if the city has a curfew, but Craft said it is his understanding that curfews have been declared unconstitutional for adults.

• Mayor Polis announced that the city is looking for a part-time sanitation worker.

• The council discussed putting together a committee composed of council and water board members to revise the city’s personnel policy.

• The council discussed adopting the state holiday calendar for the city.

• The council voted unanimously to purchase financial management software for city offices.

• The council set the annual City Christmas Party for either December 4 or 11 at City Hall and appointed James D. Collins to select a caterer.

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