I hope everyone had a great 4th of July. The weather kept everyone guessing, but things went off in great style. This weekend also had another milestone met. On July 07, it marked six months since the new Fiscal Court took office. Some of the great things that have happened are, we got over three quarters of a million dollars in Governor’s Discretionary Funds to black top four roads in the road system. We have 300 thousand in Flex money that will be used as we work with the magistrates to identify roads that need it most. We have also been tapped to receive about $17,000 in emergency road money.
The road department, under Kevin McIntosh , has set new standards for getting the job done. The Solid Waste Department under Angie Williams is also hitting the roads every day to keep Lee County clean and trash dumped . All the road and solid waste issues are being addressed by a group of 15 county workers. Collectively, they are responsible for 300 miles of county roads and about 3,000 trash cans and dumpsters.
On this long holiday weekend the solid waste crew still hit the roads and wind, rain and blacktopping contractors had many others out taking care of the county’s business. Volunteer firefighters and ambulance crews were also on the scene for a couple of motor vehicle accidents and other emergencies. The action doesn’t stop, because we are enjoying the fireworks or cooking on the grill. I want to offer my thanks to them for always being on the scene ready to answer every call.
Peal Spencer, the county treasurer, has been regularly challenging every expenditure and giving some great advice on procedures and policy. With the greater than expected increase in tax returns and road money, we start of f the Fiscal Year with a budget of about 5.9 million dollars. This is significantly higher than the 4.4 million we started with last year. This money comes from several sources, which I will discuss in a future column and is frequently ear marked for specific uses. The one that gives us the most flexibility is the money we receive from local real estate, real property, etc taxes (you can see these taxes on your tax bill from the Sheriff) and we predict that will equal about 1.9 million this year. We are just starting the Fiscal Year, but Ms. Spencer will be watching everything with an eagle eye.
Vickie Vanderpool has taken charge of facilities management with a passion and her crew of Larry Ross and Tim Sizemore. If you want to rent a room or schedule a picnic area, give her a call. We may have to start charging a clean up fee for some facilities, which will be refundable if the space is returned in a clean condition. We hope that isn’t necessary, but we have to figure out some way to keep the spaces presentable for the next party’s use.
Pamela Barrett continues to answer endless questions about policy and issues with patience and a true desire to help.
EMA Director Eugene Barrett is recovering from a knee operation and is working to prepare for retirement. He is also at the forefront of managing Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) money after the recent flooding in February. We have already begun work on repairing that damage and had our first meeting with the Federal and State FEMA personnel . All money that comes to Lee County from FEMA goes through Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM).
A couple of issues continue to plague us. One is the ambulance service. After a great deal of research and dealing with a contractor, the Fiscal Court reached out to several nonprofits with regional missions to work out an agreement to start a regional nonprofit ambulance service. All didn’t feel the desire to take on the added responsibility. A new for profit service, Breathitt and Wolfe EMS has started using assets from the old “Arrowmed” service. A group consisting of Pearl Spencer, Mayor Scott Jackson, and Angie Williams, met with the owner and his Chief Executive to discuss the possibilities of them assuming a contractor position to replace McIntosh Ambulance as our provider. They were very impressive. They were invited to speak to the Fiscal Court at the next meeting on Thursday, July 11 at 6 p.m. in the courtroom on the second floor of the courthouse. The public is welcome to attend.
I will also present a couple of names for the magistrates to help me chose an EMA Director, since they had suck strong feelings about the last one.
Last week, we also had a meeting with several dignitaries regarding the future of the Kentucky River and how we can capitalize on it. In attendance were Tomas Stevens, Secretary of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, Kentucky River Water Trail Director, Pat Banks and her husband Alan, Deputy Secretary of the Kentucky Horse Park, Jonathan Lane, David Kinlock of the Lock 13 and 14 Hydro-Electric Project, and Dedra Brandenburg. We discussed the future of using the river for tourism, as a linear park that runs the length of the river from Beattyville to the Ohio river and using it to generate electricity. With the headwaters of the Kentucky river and two complete pools within Lee County, we are in a unique position to market our area for visitors capitalize on it to create more local businesses.
In the Community Development Block grant meeting last week, a group of citizens reviewed engineering firms to find the best one for designing the project. A group of city and county employees selected Nebitt Engineering to do the job.
It was a short week last week, but the Lee County team answered every call and Economic Development Director/Mayor Scott Jackson has been there every time, always working to find more ways to work together as a Lee/Beattyville team.
As we continue forward together, I would like to share this quote from Margaret J. Wheatley.
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”