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Water projects at top of court’s priority list




Six water projects are slated to receive most of Letcher County’s coal-severance tax receipts during the next two years.

The Letcher Fiscal Court has recommended that $6.75 million in coal-severance funds be applied to water projects planned for the communities of Mayking, Payne Gap, Millstone, Premium, Red Star and Hallie.

The projects are at the top a list the fiscal court will present to the Kentucky General Assembly for funding in the new biennium. Also on the list is a project to connect Letcher County’s water supply to Knott County’s water supply at Carr Fork Lake.

Each water project calls for the use of between $1 million and $1.25 million in severance funds.

In all, the court is requesting that 31 projects be approved for severance funds. It is not known how many of the projects will actually receive funding.

In placing the six water projects at the top of “Letcher County Coal Severance Project Priority List” during a special meeting on Januayr 18, the court followed the recommendation of Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward.

Before the list was approved, each magistrate had the opportunity to speak out on any of the funding proposals. For the most part, everyone was in agreement with the order in which the list was presented.

Several magistrates asked that projects not already on the list be added. District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming asked that each community center in the county be given $10,000 for operating expenses, and that the Senior Citizens appropriation be increased from $250,000 to $350,000.

Although the court voted to increase the allotment to the Letcher County Tourism Commission from $50,000 to $75,000, District One Magistrate Codell Gibson expressed doubts about the commission’s activities.

“I’d like to know what they do,” said Gibson. “I don’t want to give them money if they aren’t doing anything.”

Judge Ward explained that the commission has become more active since new board members were appointed. Magistrate Fleming added that tourism is an important piece of the economic puzzle for Letcher County and that the commission helps to fund festivals in each city in the county.

District Two Magistrate Archie Banks questioned the appropriation to the Domestic Violence Center and suggested it be placed on the bottom of the list. Banks also objected to funding a new stage at Appalshop. The court voted 5- 1 to appropriate $100,000 to the center with Banks voting no.

Banks also voted against extending an appropriation to the Old Jenkins High School project of $100,000 for each of the two years of the bi-annual budget. Gibson joined Banks in voting no and the vote was 4- 2 in favor of the appropriation. Banks and District Four Magistrate Keith Adams also voted against a $50,000 one-year appropriation to Letcher County Libraries. That vote also passed by a 4-2 margin.

A controversial appropriation to the Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital was originally left off the list, but was later placed at No. 27.

Asked last week if the court intended to honor a July 2007 vote to appropriate $100,000 to the hospital’s proposed women’s health center. Judge Ward answered that the appropriation was approved contingent on several conditions, including one that construction would begin before the court made the money available.

Magistrate Fleming added that while he supports having a women’s health center in the county and would vote to fund the project, he has concerns about the current management of ARH and the way it treats its employees and conducts relations with the community. Fleming charged that ARH management has gone out of its way to punish individuals and businesses they have perceived as being friendly to Steelworkers and registered nurses whenever they go on strike.

“I don’t think they have done right,” said Fleming. “I want the center to be built but I don’t like what they’ve done. They have been real childish. If you oppose Whitesburg ARH, they boycott you. They did it with RC (the Whitesburg Royal Crown Bottling Plant) and Pepsi (East Kentucky Beverage). … I think they’re pretty petty.”

Letcher County Coal Severance Project Priority List
Project Amount Requested
1. Pert Creek, Pine Creek, Cram Creek Water Project …………………………………… $1,250,000
2. Knott County. Interconnect/Hwy. 1410 Water Project …………………………………. 1,000,000
3, Hwy 119, Mayking, Payne Gap Water Project ……………………………………………. 1,000,000
4. Red Star/Hallie Water Project …………………………………………………………………… 1,250,000
5. Millstone Water Project ……………………………………………………………………………. 1,000,000
6. Hwy 160/Premium Water Project ……………………………………………………………… 1,250,000
7. Letcher County Fire Departments ………………………………………………………………… 200,000
8. Letcher County Parks and Recreation ………………………………………………………….. 250,000
9. Letcher County Senior Citizens Program ……………………………………………………… 350,000
10. Fire Training Center/Neon …………………………………………………………………………… 200,000
11. Letcher County Health Department ………………………………………………………………. 200,000
12. Letcher County Planning Commission ……………………………………………………………. 50,000
13. Letcher County Animal Shelter …………………………………………………………………… 300,000
14. Letcher County Property Valuation Administrator …………………………………………… 30,000
15. Letcher County Court Clerk …………………………………………………………………………. 30,000
16. Letcher County Community Centers ……………………………………………………… 10,000 ea/yr
17. Letcher County Veterans Museum …………………………………………………………………. 50,000
18. Letcher County Sanitation Department ………………………………………………………… 200,000
19. Fishpond Lake …………………………………………………………………………………………… 200,000
20. Blackey Community Center ………………………………………………………………………… 250,000
21. Letcher County Tourism …………………………………………………………………. 75,000 (2 years)
22. Lights for fields at Letcher County Park ………………………………………………………. 125,000
23. Appalshop ………………………………………………………………………………………. 25,000 (1 year)
24. Letcher County Domestic Violence Center …………………………………………………… 100,000
25. Old Jenkins High School ………………………………………………………………. 100,000 (2 years)
26. Letcher County Libraries ……………………………………………………………………………. 100,000
27. ARH Women’s Center ………………………………………………………………………………… 100,000
28. Campbell’s Branch Fire Department (substation ) ………………………………. 40,000 (1 year)
29. Kingdom Come School Building Purchase …………………………………………………… 150,000
30. All City Police Departments ………………………………………………………………. 5,000 (1 time)
31. Letcher County Sheriff’s Department……………………………………………….. 60,000 (2 years)



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