The Whitesburg City Council learned this week that the city has settled a lawsuit filed by Donald Niece of Thornton over property on Kansas Avenue on Tunnel Hill.
Mayor James Wiley Craft told the council at its February meeting that attorneys for Niece and the city reached a compromise that gives Niece some property on the left side of Kansas Avenue and Randy Cook of Marlowe some of the property on the right while the city retains the rest of the land including the two ponds and house sites and receives $5,000 in compensation. Craft told the council the amount may seem small, but during litigation it became apparent that Niece had done a considerable amount of grading to the land, which Craft said benefits the city as well.
In other business at Monday night’s meeting, Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering announced that the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) has approved a project to move the city’s water intake to the city water plant and lower it to keep the plant from becoming contaminated in the event of an oil spill like the ones that have caused problems for the city in the past. The council voted unanimously to approve Nesbitt’s request to advertise the project for bid when the Division of Water gives the final okay.
Kevin Howard of Summit Engineering reported on the Solomon Road water line extension project and said the city has a street collapsed on Texas Avenue and other serious problems with water lines in the Upper Bottom. Howard told the council Summit has worked with the Kentucky River Area Development District to obtain $100,000 funding for the lines in the Upper Bottom. He said it will be enough to start the work and the council approved his request to allow Summit Engineering to proceed
Chris Caudill, maintenance superintendent of the City Water Plant, told the council the work will replace a four- inch line with six-inch lines, which will improve water pressure and enhance fire protection. Caudill also told the council construction will begin soon on the Texas Avenue work and it can move straight to Kentucky Avenue to address the pipe situation as well.
Councilman John Williams asked if it would help with the dirty water problem and Caudill said it would. He added that the number of line flushes will be reduced considerably, probably from once a week to once a month. Howard also submitted invoices from H20 Contractors and Summit for $62,816.70 (H20) and $ 24,933.40 ( Summit Engineering). He said that when ARC funds are released the invoices can be paid. Mayor Craft told the council an Appalachian Regional Commission grant had paid for the Solomon Project. The council voted to pay the invoices when funds are released.
In the Water and Sewer report, Chris Caudill told the council he has rebuilt the valves for two high storage pumps and put in two chlorine storage tanks as well. He asked the council to consider two valve rebuild kits for other valves, which he said would save the city about $2,000 per valve. He added that he had saved about $8,000 by rebuilding the other valves.
John Williams asked if the City Water Plant is still producing enough water to serve the county water customers and Caudill said the plant currently runs at 84 percent capacity and will run at 95 percent during the summer. He said that DOW recommends a city look at expanding capacity when usage exceeds 80 percent.
The council approved the re-appointment of Whitesburg dentist Dr. David Narramore to the Housing Authority Board of Directors and Narramore, who is also chairman of the Letcher County Tourism Commission, presented drawings of the planned Whitesburg Streetscape Project. The council unanimously voted to support a grant application by the tourism commission to enter into the planning stage of the project. Narramore said that part of the planning process would be to detail the costs of the project and to break it down into phases so it will be more affordable.
Whitesburg resident Rick Caudill, who lives on Fields Cliff with his wife, asked the council to look at his water bills. Caudill said he thinks they have been running high for his two-person household. Craft said he would see to the matter. Brandon Brock also asked the council to try to speed up work to repair a sunken city street on Point View where his brother is planning to renovate a house. Mayor Craft said the work will require borrowing the county’s excavator and will start when the county can allow the city to use the excavator and operator for about a week.
Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation Chief Executive Officer Mike Caudill and his son Lee Michael approached the council to ask for its customary cooperation in presenting the Heritage 2K Mini Truck Show. Caudill said the show was featured in two national magazines this year as well as being featured in a mini-trucking magazine in Okinawa, Japan. He said the show attracted over 8,000 visitors to Whitesburg and that everyone who attended fell in love with the city.
The council voted unanimously to approve his request as well as a request to support Lee Michael Caudill’s request to the Letcher County Board of Education to use the old Whitesburg High School for a pro wrestling show on April 13. Proceeds from the wrestling event will go to the Kentucky State Police’s Trooper Island and Mike Caudill said the H2K show allowed for a $1,000 donation to KSP’s “Shop With a Trooper” as well.
In other business:
• The council voted unanimously to donate its salaries to the Kids Days Committee. Steve Brewer of the Kids Day Committee thanked the council members and praised them for making the recent Christmas Parade the best ever.
• The council voted to approve four separate road block requests: Relay for Life on March 31; Knight Templar Eye Foundation on April 7; Sandlick Volunteer Fire Department on May 12, and the Cancer Crusaders team on March 2.
• Mayor Craft told the council he wished to forego his salary as mayor for the previous week, during which he served as an attorney in a trial at Letcher County Circuit Court. He said that during that time he had spent very little time on the city’s affairs and would not feel right accepting a salary. — By William Farley