Water bill from the City of Whitesburg will no longer be issued in the names of people who have died.
At the October meeting Tuesday night, the Whitesburg City Council voted unanimously to change the water department’s billing procedures so that when someone dies, the meter must be registered in the name of a responsible party, bet it a relative, the executor of the estate, or someone who will be responsible for payment of the monthly bill.
Councilman John Pellegrini raised the matter after looking at water rolls and seeing a significant number of accounts list as “in the estate of.” Pellegrini said it is impractical to attempt to collect a bill from a dead person and that in the future all water meters should be registered in the name of a living person.
In another water-related matter, water department supervisor Chris Caudill said the installation of the new radio-read water meters is progressing, but moving slowly. He said he and other city workers are “working out the bugs” on installing the meters and that most of the “big account” radio-read meters have been installed. This includes meters for the Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital, Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, Letcher County Central High School, and other large accounts. Caudill said he expects all the meters to be installed before freezing weather sets in.
Several residents of the old golf course area in Mayking attended the meeting to see if any progress has been made toward obtaining funding to extend city sewer lines there. Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering told the residents that it won’t be quick and that he expects the grant process to extend until late next year. He said it would help convince funding agencies of the need if interested people would create a sign-up list for people willing to take the city sewer service.
In other business, Mayor James Wiley Craft told the council that most of the Daniel Boone Hotel has been cleaned out and the debris has been removed. Craft said that three floors will be restored and a roof that will hold something of the city’s choosing — maybe a garden or a restaurant — will be installed. He said the finished product would definitely be something of which the city can be proud.
Nesbitt, who has also worked with the city on getting money for other major projects, said that once the current work to shore up the building is finished, getting money for the actual hotel itself should be relatively easy. Nesbitt added that the proposed Thunder Mountain Sport Shooting and Resort at Marlowe will not only help to draw funders’ attention to the hotel, but the resort will benefit from the Daniel Boone hotel when it is ready to take guests.
Nesbitt also told the council that a loan from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority for the extension of new water lines on the Whitesburg bypass, and for new water tanks, might not come through until February. However, he said the city needs to move faster than that on these projects, and he hopes that KIA will reconsider. He added that another round of funding from KIA is coming soon and he plans to approach the Appalachian Regional Commission to ask for more money for Whitesburg projects.
Councilman Mike Jackson reported that the annexation of Solomon Creek is ready to move forward. Jackson said mapping is complete and the survey done by Councilman Derek Barto revealed that more than 55 percent of the residents are in favor of annexation. Jackson said he would like to begin the process of annexation in January.
Police Chief Tyrone Fields reported on the purchase of a new Dodge Durango for police department use. Fields said the lights have been installed, striping is on, and there is money in the Alcohol Beverage Control fund to pay for the new vehicle. Craft reminded the council that the ABC fund is strictly limited by law to paying for the maintenance of the Whitesburg Police Department, and that it can’t ever be used to pay salaries for police officers.
Craft also announced that the first annual “Ralph Hall Jr. Five K Run” will be held October 26, with the proceeds used to establish a Christmas Fund for children. Craft remembered Hall as a minister and a citizen, and said he had been a member of the city council until he moved out of the city.
Craft also reminded the council that the city will hold a dedication ceremony at River Park on October 13 at 2 p.m. for a memorial to people who have died from black lung disease.
He also said the annual Oktoberfest celebration will be held October 19 from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Craft said the city’s Halloween Safe Night will take place on October 31 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The council will have its customary set-up in front of City Hall and the streets will be closed from the Letcher County Courthouse to the First Baptist Church.