Hard to believe the April showers were not that bad, and the May flowers are blooming already. Last week started with State Senator Robert Stivers stopping by to introduce Attorney General Candidate Wil Schroder to locals and they visited with Courthouse and City staff. There were several questions and lots of laughter as Senator Stivers went down memory lane with Mayor Jackson.
Tuesday, Chief Financial Officer, Pearl Spencer, Solid Waste Coordinator/Assistant Treasurer Angelia Williams, Deputy Judge, Pamela Barrett, and I went to Morehead for an Auditor’s training conference. This was great preparation as this week was also the one where we began the budget building part of the year. The Judge Executive must present a budget to the Fiscal Court to vote on by July 1. We have completed the first look at the Road Dept, Solid Waste Dept, and 911. The Department heads came in and gave their plans of action for the budget with the Chief Financial Officer working with them to crunch the numbers. We continue this week working on the General Budget. We estimate we are going to have about a four-million-dollar budget to work with this year. Hopefully more, but we can’t bank on it.
Wednesday, the Mayor; at large member, Everett Marshall; and I attended the Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD) Meeting in Hazard. At large member, Doug Brandenburg had training at work and uncharacteristically didn’t attend. Lee County was recognized for our support of the Mom’s Meals program and the Senior Citizens Center. We listened to a speaker from Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation discuss how communities can benefit from being in “Promise Zones” to spark investment. Lee County is not in a “Promise Zone”, but there may be a possibility to become a member of this group in the future. It is another program with money and contacts to bring federal, state, and private investors to the table to improve quality of life in our county with more opportunity and jobs.
The board also discussed changes to the KRADD policy on using social media to market programs.
Wednesday afternoon, a special session of the Fiscal Court met to approve a contract with Mudcat Construction for a contract awarded for a FEMA disaster in 2017. The contract was modified to complete payment within 30 days of when the bill was presented instead of waiting for the Fiscal Court to approve it, before paying. The Fiscal Court also approved the hiring of Michele Riley as a part time $9.00 dispatcher. Commissioner Gray Tomblyn II, of the Kentucky Department of Rural Municipal Aid, who first came to a Fiscal Court meeting in February as part of a listening tour; in last week’s meeting, announced Lee County was going to get $730,000 in County Road aid. The Fiscal Court went into executive session for Magistrates to discuss with Middle Kentucky Community Action Program (MKCAP) Director, Darrell Shouse, their thoughts on the possible management of the ambulance service by MKCAP. No decisions were made. It was simply an discussion to clarify the status of the process. You can watch the meeting on the Lee_County_Kentucky_Government Facebook page.
Thursday had several members of the new LEAP 2.0 program come together for an alumni meeting. LEAP is a leadership program that brings community members from Lee, Estill, Powell, Owsley, and Jackson Counties together for a year long program designed to build social networks and build knowledge of the programs in all the counties involved. LEAP is going on now with future leaders visiting counties each month. LEAP 2.0 is a meeting of all those who have completed the program and have a desire to continue working to build regional programs to improve all their communities.
Friday, Mayor Jackson and I followed every rabbit trail and curvey road, uphill……both ways, to attend the Eastern Kentucky Leadership Conference in Cumberland, Kentucky. We met with regional program leaders and were brought up to date on the Kentucky Wired Project and the expanding internet service, Supporting medical career paths, tourism around lakes, leveraging technology to market businesses, and how a group of Harlan County High School Students has taken the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative program of entrepreneurship, called “Tiny Houses” and turned it into a concept for creating a community of tiny houses co-located with social services to help homeless people suffering from addiction to find their ways back into the community. Two of the tiny houses in the community were built by and bought from, the Lee County Area Technology Center, that serves students from Lee, Owsley and Wolfe counties.
Saturday, was our annual Spring clean up day organized by Soil and Water Conservation District Director, Sandy Gay and Lee County Solid Waste Coordinator, Angelia Williams. Over all, driving around picking up collected trash, I have to say our community response was underwhelming. Rewards of a year of free garbage pick up and a party, Trash Bash 2019, at the end of the day didn’t bring out the numbers hoped. For our next event, there will be even more advertising and I would ask all consider the effort put in by the local Boy and Girl Scout Troops who did an incredible job cleaning up their sections of roads. Their example inspired me.
The County and City also came together again to ensure dumpsters were emptied Saturday. When the City truck went down, the County, as the city has done for us, stepped up and used the County trucks to help solve the problem.
Sunday, I was going to hike with the Sheltowee trace hikers on 399 to see the extent of the dog problems, but didn’t receive a call where and when they were starting, so I went to the area where the problems occurred, waited for them and didn’t see any problem dealing with the dogs in question. The owner was present and helped calm fears. I haven’t heard of any other problems regarding their hike on Sunday.
The ATV issue continues to fester. I have asked the Sheriff to work with the Fiscal Court to get a handle on the problem and will continue to work with Law Enforcement any way possible to address the growing concern of some people showing little respect for property and consideration for other’s rights. This is a problem that has been growing for years, long before Hollarwood, and Bone Yard Hollow opened. Please talk to your Magistrates to help them understand where you stand on the issue.
Some great news came in Monday, the State identified 12 roads that we have on the map as county roads, but we aren’t getting funded for, because over the years, there is no report they were vote into the system by the Fiscal Court. We will fix that at the next Fiscal Court Meeting.
The next Fiscal Court Meeting will be on May 9th at 6 p.m. in the Courthouse, second floor. I look forward to an exciting meeting and hope to see you there.