At its June meeting, the Whitesburg City Council commemorated the loss of its longest serving member and announced that country music royalty in the form of Carlene Carter, daughter of the late June Carter Cash, will headline the city’s Independence Day celebration.
The council also honored the late James Bates with the reading of a proclamation in commemoration of Bates’s service to his country, the state, and the city. It was issued by the Kentucky Senate, and read by Whitesburg Police Chief Tyrone Fields. The members also voted unanimously to fill Bates’s vacant council seat by appointing his sister, Debbie Bates, to fill his unexpired term.
The city will celebrate Independence Day on June 30 this year because July 4 is on a Wednesday. Mayor Craft said the celebration at Riverfront Park will begin at 2 p.m. Carlene Carter, stepdaughter of Johnny Cash and granddaughter of Mother Maybelle Carter, will be the featured performer.
The council gave Mayor James Wiley Craft permission to execute an architect contract for architectural work on the old Daniel Boone Hotel. Craft said he will negotiate the best arrangement possible for architectural services and added that Poage Engineering, the engineering company the city contracted with to do a structural integrity study of the building, has completed its work. Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, who is working with the city on the project, said he has completed an initial examination of the study and the city was well served by Poage Engineering.
Nesbitt also told the council the next step is for Nesbitt Engineering to complete a hydraulic model to inform the members of the water needs for the hotel that will be necessary for future steps in the project. Nesbitt said the city currently has $1 million, but the projected cost of the entire renovation totals $5 million to complete the project. He said that the hydraulic model will be an important step in obtaining future funding.
In other business, Mayor Craft asked the council to approve an arrangement he made as an emergency measure to preserve the purchase of playground equipment for the city’s planned Sensory Park for Autistic Children. Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill, who is on the park committee, said the original arrangement with the playground equipment company had been for the company to go ahead and place the order for the equipment so the city would to be able to take advantage of a discount offered if the purchase was made before the end of 2017. Caudill said the equipment was not supposed to be shipped or billed until June 2018, but it was shipped in December.
Craft said the equipment company informed him if it wasn’t paid, it would take possession of the unopened equipment and Craft entered into a loan agreement with the company’s financing group. He said this was an emergency action to keep from losing the equipment and the loan was done on his signature. He asked the council to approve it and said that the $4,000 per month payments will take care of the city’s portion of a 50/50 match agreement with the state.
Caudill said that city employees will assemble the equipment when the park is ready and their work will count against the match as well. The total cost for the equipment is $49,000. The council voted unanimously to approve entering into the financing agreement and Councilmember Earlene Cornett said that Craft’s action had prevented the city from losing the discount and kept it from getting a reputation for not paying its bills.
The council also voted to approve a request from new city clerk Jessica Keene to adopt on-line banking capability. Keene told the council that on-line banking will allow the city to have immediate access to its banking information and to have access to all accounts in real time. Angie Mullins of the Kentucky River Area Development District, who works with the city on grant management, said that online banking will help the city in dealing with funders, by giving them immediate access to financial information.
In the Water and Sewer Report, Chris Caudill told the council that there were several water leaks in May, and some problems with the city wastewater plant, but the new custom machined $58,000 bearing assembly installed at the plant is doing its job well. Caudill also said the city needs to purchase a new handheld device to do touch reading on city water meters. He said the device will also work with radio read meters if the city is able to purchase them in the future. Caudill said the device package will cost $7,700 and will be accompanied by new water management software, which will take care of billing and other financial management functions for the water department. The software will carry an annual upgrade fee of $3,300. Mayor Craft said he will approve the request if the water fund has sufficient funds to make the purchase, or at whatever time it does have the necessary funding. The council voted unanimously to approve.
The city will close city streets to celebrate Casey’s Law on July 28 from 1 until 4 p.m. Casey’s Law refers to the Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention. The law became effective in Kentucky in 2004 and was inspired by Casey Wethington’s death of a heroin overdose at age 23. The law allows the parents, relatives, or friends of an addicted person to lawfully intervene and request involuntary, court-ordered addiction treatment for their addicted loved one.
The council also voted unanimously to approve Whitesburg Housing Commission Chairman Jack Burkich’s request to appoint Clayshan Caudill Black to fill the Housing Commission seat vacated by the death of her late father Herb Caudill. The members also approved a $5,600 bid from Ajax Paving for paving and patching potholes on city streets.
Retired physician John Pellegrini of Whitesburg asked the council to do something about election day parking in front of the Harry M. Caudill Library. Pellegrini said that this year, the two parking spots that are supposed to be kept open for voters were blocked by people parking there for other purposes and leaving their cars for long periods. He said it had prevented some people with limited mobility from voting. Mayor Craft said the city has an ordinance that covers it and in response to a request from Pellegrini, he said the city will expand the number of reserved parking spots on election day to four.
Pellegrini also said that employees of city businesses use downtown parking spots that are supposed to be kept for customers of local business. The council agreed that the best way to address the matter is to speak to local businesspeople and ask them to have their employees use city lots so parking will be available to people who need to do business downtown.
Craft said that the first two parking spots in front of City Hall will be kept open for people who are doing business there, paying water bills, etc. Craft also asked the council to rename the city’s pedestrian bridge from the James Bates Walking Bridge to the James Bates Memorial Bridge. The council voted unanimously to approve his request.
Other business addressed by the council:
• The Whitesburg Car Show will be held on Saturday June 16 beginning at 2 p.m. in the city parking lot at the Veterans Museum.
• Councilman Jackson said he will speak to local Internet service providers to ask if one or more of them will provide Wi-Fi service to the Farmer’s Market and walking track area in exchange for advertising.
• The council approved a roadblock for the Sandlick Fire Department on June 30.
• The council approved the use of the city tennis courts for a tennis tournament July 13 – 15.
• Mayor Craft praised Whitesburg resident Delano Thomas, who he said uses the city’s walking track regularly and carries a bag to pick up garbage along the way. He also praised Jolinda Wright and Leanne Mullins for taking care of the city’s flowerpots.