At its May meeting, the Whitesburg City Council passed several resolutions and ordinances that are necessary to accept the $1 million grant the city received from the Appalachian Regional Commission to begin the process of renovation of the Daniel Boone Hotel in Whitesburg.
Annette Napier of THE Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD) asked that the council pass the resolutions to comply with the federal regulations that will be necessary in order to receive the funding. The council voted unanimously to accept a request from the Kentucky Department of Local Government to allow the council to act as the fiscal agent for the project to stabilize the Daniel Boone Hotel by signing a Fiscal Agent Agreement with ARC and DLG.
The council also voted unanimously to adopt a Drug Free Workplace Certification, to adopt another ordinance to encourage small minority-owned businesses to participate in the renovation and bid on the work, to adopt Community Development Block Grant codes regarding bids and the expenditure of funds, and to adopt Fair Housing Practices Codes and assurances that provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act will be observed.
The council also voted unanimously to enter into a contract with KRADD to administer the grant. Napier said that $40,000 of the grant has been designated to fund a grant administrator and asked that KRADD be considered. KRADD has served as grant administrator for several other city and county grants successfully in the past.
The council also voted to allow KRADD to advertise for a structural engineer and an architect to begin the necessary planning for the construction. Napier said she hopes to get the project underway in time to get bid packets out and bring a recommendation to the council at the June meeting.
Mayor Craft told the council he wants to assure the citizens of Whitesburg that every cent will be accounted for and that every pay request and invoice will have to pass through KRADD and then through the Department of Local Government before it is paid. He said a lot of eyes will be on the project and guaranteed that nobody will profit illegally. Napier also said there will be monthly construction progress meetings and the public will be welcome. Napier said the city will need to set up a special account for the funding.
Residents and businesses in the City of Whitesburg should see their insurance rates go down soon, as the city has just received the lowered ISO rating of three. Fire Chief Gary Mullins told the Whitesburg City Council that he has been notified by the Insurance Service Office that while the city has enough points to achieve an even lower rating, the overall average of factors that mostly come from the fire department and water plant are enough to lower the rating from four to three.
Mullins said that when Mayor James Wiley Craft took office in 2007, he was notified by ISO that the city was in danger of being rated at the higher rate of six, but Craft and the council took action to keep the rate lower. After a long term as a member of the Whitesburg City Council and long service with the Whitesburg Volunteer Fire Department, Mullins was appointed fire chief, and he began the effort to improve the department’s rating. He said it took three years to gather the necessary information to get the ISO to re-evaluate the department, and after that it dropped to a rate of four in 2010. Then he addressed communication issues and worked with the 911 office to get that done.
Mullins said he has worked closely with the city water plant, which is responsible for 40 percent of the ISO rating, to make sure hydrants are up to standard and are inspected regularly. Hydrants are now tested annually and extensive records are maintained. Mullins also said the department purchased the necessary equipment to test the hydrants. Fire department equipment has also been improved and Mullins said the city now has most of what it needs, so it has moved on to training. However, in 2014, ISO issued new guidelines and the city had to work to accommodate the changes. After the last ISO inspection, he was informed Whitesburg actually have enough points to drop the rating to a two, but the overall average kept the rating at three.
Mullins said he has learned how the ISO formula works and he will continue to work to lower the rating at every opportunity.
He said the lower the rating, the lower insurance costs for residents will be and that commercial rates will be the first to show the changes. Residential rates will reflect the new rating as well.
Mayor Craft praised Mullins for his efforts on the city’s behalf and said that he has made several important hires, but none more than when he convinced Mullins to become fire chief. He thanked Mullins on behalf of the city and said, “Of all the hires I have made, you are one of the best.”
Mayor Craft also announced that a $66,000 grant has been approved by the Department of Local Government for the Sensory Park in Whitesburg for autistic children and the city will provide a 50/50 match for the grant. The council vote unanimously to accept the terms of the grant.
Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, whose company worked closely with the city and with KRADD in obtaining funds to begin the Daniel Boone Hotel project, told the council the company is still pursuing funding for renovating the city water plant and for replacing water lines along the Whitesburg by-pass. Water Maintenance Director Christ Caudill told the council there have been 472 leaks on the bypass lines since they were incorrectly installed.
Caudill also told the council that city workers have had their hands full with pump problems and issues at the city’s wastewater treatment plant. He said representatives of the company that sold the equipment for the plant will be here on Wednesday to see if they can isolate some of the problems there, and added that several lift pumps have been repaired and one is being inspected to see whether it is economically feasible to repair it or replace it. Caudill said that usually if it costs more than half the price of a new pump to repair it, it is better to replace it. He also said that about 15 feet of six-inch water main was exposed in Whitco in recent flooding.
Mayor Craft announced that the Whitesburg swimming pool will open on May 12 and that Donna Perkins will manage the pool.
Craft also welcomed Farm House General Store as the city’s newest business. He said that Dock Frazier owns the store and it has produce, plants, and food stocked by the Yoder Amish store. ike Nite and the Mayfest will both take place on Saturday, and Craft said the two events are working together to provide a good experience to visitors.
Councilman James Bates suggested that the council give every police office a $2 per hour raise. Bates said the department has lost one officer and he will not be replaced, and suggested that the raise come from the amount that will be saved from his pay. The vote to approve was unanimous.