The Whitesburg City Council heard good news Tuesday night about a grant for a planned bicycle trail and also entered into the planning phase of a monthly “cruise-in” for the city starting next spring.
The council learned at its August meeting that the city has been awarded a grant to fund a bicycle trail from the Whitesburg/ Letcher County Farmers Market in downtown Whitesburg to the walking track at River Park, near the Whitesburg hospital, that will run on a circuitous route through the old L&N Railroad tunnel.
Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill, who is on the Trail Town Steering Committee, said the grant had been awarded and a bid for the trail that was initially entered for over $80,000 had been negotiated to $71,342. Caudill said the trail will be a 2.5-mile loop and make use of the 347-foot-long tunnel and run along the Kentucky River.
Representatives of the Mountain Muscle Car Club attended the meeting and proposed holding a cruise-in and car show on the second Saturday of each month beginning in April 2019. Dustin Hays, Tay Gibson, and Mike Thomas told the council they have held several shows at various sites this year and have donated all the receipts to charity. Hays said the club is in its second year and has 564 members. He said they started doing shows at various sites last year and gave the proceeds to the Whitesburg Middle School boys’ basketball team for the first show. Hays said a show in May at Kentucky Mist Distillery raised more than $1,100 for the American Cancer Society.
Hays said the club is completely nonprofit and is primarily interested in holding the cruise-in to help draw tourists and promote the city. He said if the council gives them permission to hold shows at the Veterans Museum site, the club would like to coordinate with downtown restaurants to provide access for show goers to have food and beverages and work with the Letcher County Tourism Commission to bring in local musicians as well. The second Saturday would not conflict with cruise-in events in Jenkins, Prestonsburg, or Somerset. Mayor James Wiley Craft and the council expressed an interest in the events. Craft asked club members to attend the council’s January 2019 meeting and they can work on scheduling the program. Hays said the club is through doing shows for the summer.
In other business, the council heard a presentation from representatives of C.I. Thornburg to provide automated water meter reading services for the city. Chief Sales Officer Rodney Adkins presented several options, including handheld radio meters, drive-by meters that load directly to a laptop in a vehicle, or a centrally located system that reads all the meters in the city. He said the SENSUS system provides immediate information, helps prevent leaks, and is accurate to a rate of .003 gallons per minute.
Adkins said the system will not only increase revenue for the city, it will also save labor by allowing city workers to attend to other matters instead of the timeconsuming manual meter reading. Chris Caudill said the system would help the city in a number of ways and Mayor Craft said if the council approves entering into an arrangement with Thornburg, he would like to do it gradually, buying a set number of meters each time to keep debt down. Adkins said Thornburg will work with the city to accommodate its wishes and Craft asked for a proposal and for more information to be sent to council members by e-mail.
Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, who is working with the city on water and sewer issues and rehabbing the Daniel Boone Hotel, reported that the hydraulic analysis to determine the city’s water capacities is almost done and said that as part of the analysis, his engineers have photographed the city’s water tanks. Nesbitt said two of the tanks will need to be sandblasted and re-painted soon. He also said that 49 sets of plans covering every phase of water line installation in the city have been digitized and he presented the council with a CD of the entire system. Nesbitt said the city can have as many CDs as it needs, but recommended installing them on computers for easier reading.
Nesbitt said he would be leaving for a statewide conference sponsored by the Department of Local Government as soon as he left the meeting. He said he hopes to secure funding for Phase II of the Daniel Boone Hotel Project.
The council also conducted the first reading of Ordinance 2018-3 to set the tax rate for the coming year. The rate is $.34 per $100 of real and personal property and will be submitted to the Letcher County Fiscal Court following the second reading at the next meeting. The tax rate is unchanged from the previous year and Mayor Craft said the council has been able to lower it from $.37 per $100 when the current council came into office.
Councilman Mike Jackson reported that a feature film on the MCHC Farmacy healthy eating program will be presented at the upcoming SOAR (Save Our Appalachian Region) meeting. The Farmacy program works in conjunction with the Letcher Country Farmers Market. He said the filming was done partially with drones and produced by SOAR.
The council also heard a request for a fundraising car show for the Little Divas Dance Team in Virgie. Parent member Ashley Caudill asked for a date in October to hold a show at the Veterans Museum parking lot to help send the dance team to competitions in the coming year. The council approved the request but Mayor Craft said it will be necessary to find out the date for Oktoberfest before setting a date for the car show.
The council also voted unanimously to place an advertisement for bids for a new roof for city hall. Mayor Craft also asked the council to approve a request to have the city attorney draft an ordinance for a pooper scooper ordinance to keep dog excrement away from city and private property.