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Whitesburg residents soon will have new cable TV provider




Most Whitesburg residents should have a new cable-television provider by the end of the month, officials say.

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, is expected to complete the sale of its Whitesburg franchise to TV Service Inc. of Hindman by the end of August.

Comcast representative Steve Pollard told the Whitesburg City Council at its August meeting last week that negotiations between Comcast and TV Service were in the very final stages. Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft said the city will still have to advertise for bids for cable service, and he expects the process to be made final at a special meeting of the city council on August 30.

Craft said the council will also spend time during the special meeting addressing large increases in the cost of health insurance for city workers. Craft said costs for insuring city employees and their families have gone up from $176,000 to $250,000 during the last year.

The agreement between Comcast and TV Service, a division of United Cable, will wrap up a process that began shortly after Craft took office in January and declared that the service being provided by Comcast was not up to the standards the council demands. Craft told Pollard that if the negotiations hit a snag and an agreement is not reached by August 30 the council will take action.

“Tell your people they have until August 30,” Craft told Pollard and added, “You have been a gentleman about this.”

Craft said the change in cable providers should not only increase the signal strength and improve the quality of the reception, but will also make highspeed Internet service available via cable modem as well as telephone modem. Craft said the council is prepared to take “another route” if negotiations stall, but hopes everything would be concluded satisfactorily.

In other business, the council welcomed new member Sheila Shortt, who is replacing longtime council member Gary Mullins, who had to resign his seat to accept the position of deputy fire chief with the city.

The council also learned that bids for the city/county wastewater plant and the sewer line construction in Whitco were opened and came in at slightly more than $1 million more than the city currently has available for the project. Kevin Howard of Summitt Engineering, the Pike County firm in charge of the project, recommended the city continue with the current plan and work to obtain the extra funding. Craft agreed and told the council he has already begun the work to obtain the additional money.

“Everything (in the plans) is desired by the community,” said Howard. “You want this to last for 20 years. I don’t think it will get any cheaper. If we go to bid with it again, it probably will go higher.”

Howard said the addition of a line to Pine Mountain Lumber Company in West Whitesburg and general inflation helped cause the increase, along with several changes the council had requested to improve the operation and maintenance of the plant. Craft said he saw no other options and has already secured a low-interest loan for the city which can be rescinded if other funding becomes available.

“We have started working on the additional funding,” said Craft. “It has to last for 20 years. The alternative is cutting costs. My position is we must build this thing to design because it is about the future. I have a onepercent loan already approved and have contacted the Kentucky League of Cities (to seek other funding).”

Howard asked the council for a tentative resolution which awards the construction contract for the sewer plant to Smith Construction of Lawrenceburg, and the construction contract for the Whitco sewer lines to H2O Construction of Pikeville. Each firm submitted the low bid for its respective project. Howard said Summit has worked with H2O and that Smith Construction had excellent references. The council voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.

The council also:

. Heard a report from Jeff Kilgore of Veolia Water concerning the “John High” pump station (near West Whitesburg Elementary School). Kilgore said mop heads and sheets were removed from the pump. He said “lots of grease” has been removed from other pumps, and that the city sewer lines are grease-free for the time being.

. Passed a resolution to allow the city to accept $2,004 in municipal road bond aid from the state.

. Heard a request from Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward and Parks and Recreation Director Derek Barto for assistance with paying for a concrete pad for the new county skate park which will be installed near West Whitesburg Elementary School. Craft asked for the necessary information so the matter can be dealt with at the special August 30 meeting.

. Approved the second reading of Resolution 2007-4, which amends the ABC ordinance to call for monthly instead of quarterly reports from businesses serving alcohol in the city.

. Approved a resolution to accept $500,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to help pay for building the new city/county wastewater treatment plant.

. Awarded a bid for resurfacing city streets to Mountain Enterprises at a cost of $67.30 per ton of asphalt.

. Learned that city stickers are now available for sale, and that enforcement will be strict. Craft said the city needs the revenue from the stickers, which are priced at $7.50 for the first vehicle and $5 for each additional one.

Craft also made a plea to the citizens of Whitesburg to increase their participation in the Blue Bag recycling program. Craft said it will continue to be a major focus of his administration to implement recycling. He also said the city has applied for a $19,000 PRIDE grant for two additional recycling bins.

“Smart people recycle,” said Craft. “We must recycle or we will drown in our own garbage. I hope my grandson doesn’t have to suffer because of our lack of caring.”


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