City police officers in Whitesburg will have new radios soon in an attempt to defeat communications problems that continue to plague the city and county.
Mayor James Wiley Craft told the council at its July meeting that the radio system in use by the city is totally inadequate. At Craft’s direction, Police Chief Henry Day has solicited bids for a new system to serve the city and all its agencies including the Whitesburg Police and Fire Departments as well as city workers.
Day said he had uncovered a lot of common communications problems among the different agencies and that it has been difficult to communicate with fellow officers, City Hall, and the Kentucky State Police. The council voted unanimously to accept a bid from Tri-State Communications of Baxter for $41,999. The bid includes two new repeaters on surrounding mountains and 11 new radios. Day said the repeaters will make a lot of diff erence to his officers for both in- and out-ofvehicle communication and could conceivably save one of their lives in an emergency. The bid includes a maintenance contract for an additional fee that will replace broken radios and is good for the life of the agreement.
Chief Day said he has applied for a grant that can be applied to the purchase at any time if it is received. Mayor Craft added that the new setup will be paid for out of revenues from alcohol taxes and will come at no additional cost to the city.
In other business, Mayor Craft presented a request from Legina Adams for the Whitesburg City Council to act as fiscal agent for a grant of $8,000 which has been awarded to a group seeking to establish a banjo museum in Whitesburg. Craft told the council the grant comes from Berea College and other than serving as fiscal agent, the city will have no responsibilities. The council approved the request to accept the grant.
The council also approved a request from Mike Caudill and his son Lee Michael to allow for city participation in the Heritage 2K10 Truck Show, to be held September 10-12. Mike Caudill addressed the council while Lee Michael Caudill presented a slide show from a laptop computer showing pictures and headlines concerning the show. Caudill told the council that in the time since it started, the show has become the state’s largest modern custom show and estimated its overall economic impact to the county at $350,000. Proceeds go to the Leatherwood Blackey Clinic Children’s Christmas Program and will be shared with the Kentucky State Police “Shop with a Cop” Christmas program this year.
Caudill said both city motels are filled up for the show and that motels in Wise, Pikeville, and Hazard are also filled. Entries are already in from 17 states and the Letcher County Tourism Commission has started promotional activity. Caudill said the money that is spent during the show mostly comes from out of town but stays in Letcher County and turns over again and again as local businesses and workers spend their profits and salaries. The show also generates a good deal of favorable publicity in national magazines for Whitesburg and Letcher County, he said.
Estimates of entries exceed 300 and approximately 1,200 custom truck fans will come to Whitesburg to see the vehicles. Caudill asked the city to provide the usual cooperation and protection from the Whitesburg Police Department and to open the restrooms in the Whitesburg Swimming Pool for showers and the area around the sanitation plant for primitive camping.
Council members John Williams and Freda McFall both praised the police department for its efforts in last year’s show and Chief Day told the council the show had gone very well last year and officers had only had to speak to two people and no arrests were made. The council voted unanimously to allow for the same participation as last year. Caudill said volunteers monitor the participants during the cruise and burn-out portion of the show to allow the officers to focus on the crowd.
Mayor Craft also asked Todd Adams of Veolia Water if his workers have been able to do anything to correct the odor problem on Maple Street. Adams replied that he had a company come in and place odor monitors at both lift stations around Maple Street and a company from Pikeville will install a treatment system to keep the smells down for $5 to $6 per day, although the city may have to build a small tank for the chemicals. Adams said Veolia also has the lines flushed every day but that isn’t a real solution. He told Craft it could be pumped or cleared, but that there isn’t really much to be done except to continue flushing the lines.
Adams said the monitors will tell if one of the lift stations is damaged or cracked. In that case, he said it may need to be replaced. Mayor Craft told Adams to stay on top of the problem and to solve it for the people who are being affected.
“You know my attitude on this,” said Craft. “Don’t let those people have to live like that.”
In other council business:
• The council voted once again to donate its salaries to the Whitesburg Kids Day. Steve Brewer of the Kids Day Committee said the Whitesburg Kids Day will be held on July 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be the backto school event. Brewer told the council the committee has 2,000 backpacks full of school supplies along with all the other “free stuff ” it could come up with.
• The council voted to allow what the mayor jokingly called the “James Bates” caboose to be moved approximately 30 feet to allow for the expansion of the Letcher County Veterans Museum.
• The council voted unanimously to approve Ordinance 2010-3 to set the city tax rate at 34 cents per $100 on real property. Mayor Craft told the council the rate is the same as it has been in recent memory and does not raise taxes. The second reading will be held at the next meeting.
• Mayor Craft told the council the city will begin paving streets in the city and will pave around the Letcher County Courthouse as well.
• Craft complimented Goose Creek Symphony for its July 4 show, and said the city will build a gazebo for videographer Rick Hall to be above the crowds for future taping of events in the city park for Government Channel 98