The Jackson County Fiscal Court held its regular monthly meeting on May 11, 2020. This was the second meeting conducted without the general public being admitted in the court house. Like the meeting conducted in April, the general public could watch the meeting on Facebook live. Judge Gabbard indicated that there will be an official announcement “in a week or so” regarding when the courthouse will be re-opened to the public. “The day the Courthouse opens you will notice some changes too. My office will be accessed by appointment only. My staff will be working but I will be in and out a lot. We will limit the amount of citizens in the Courthouse as best we can. We will also be sanitizing more frequently than usual,” Judge Gabbard reported. Since the road department employees have been laid off, the Magistrates and Road Foreman are conducting the roadside mowing. Judge Gabbard stated that he will be out helping them where and how he can until the county can get the road crews back to work. “We are all doing the best we can to make sure things are done as easily and safely as possible,” Judge Gabbard said.
Judge Gabbard indicated that the fiscal court has set a target date to reopen the County parks for June 1, 2020. “This could change if things change within the State concerning this pandemic. There will be some changes in the parks as well. We ask that people please don’t overcrowd the parks. We will also step up the cleaning in the parks to help slow down and reduce the spread of sickness.” Judge Gabbard told the court that, since being shut down, there have been several instances of vandalism at the county parks. “We will be looking to prosecute those that are on surveillance video vandalizing our property. If you wish to come forward now and confess, we will take it easy on you. If you choose not to then we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Frankly we are tired of this and there is no excuse for it. It’s not a hard thing to take care of what we are blessed to have,” Gabbard said.
Sheriff Paul Hays indicated that Friday, May 15th will be the last day to pay 2019 taxes to his office. He plans on turning in the list of delinquent taxes to County Clerk Donald “Duck” Moore on Monday, May 18th. Sheriff Hays also told the court that Deputy Zach Bryant had accepted a new job with the Berea Police Department. “Deputy Bryant was an excellent officer and we will miss him. However, we just can’t compete with some of the surrounding counties in terms of salary,” Sheriff Hays said. “We wish Deputy Bryant the very best of luck in his new position.” The Sheriff said that while general service calls had decreased his office was receiving an increase in the number of calls involving domestic conflicts and mental illness. “These type of calls can be the most dangerous to our staff and to the public involved,” Sheriff Hays said. “We will maintain social distancing and do everything possible to minimize the risk of spreading this virus. However, we will enter a house or do whatever is appropriate if necessary. We only ask that the public be patient with us during these difficult times.”
Jailer Brian Gabbard provided the court with a monthly jail report. The jail brought in $66,096 worth of revenue during the month of April 2020. The Kentucky Department of Corrections is still prohibiting the work release program as well as the acceptance of any new State inmates in an effort to battle the spread of the virus. State prisons remain a high-risk environment with the recent outbreak at the Green River facility being the most recent outbreak. There are 403 positive (353 inmates, 50 staff members) COVID-19 cases and two coronavirus-related deaths at the Green River facility as of May 9th.
The fiscal court also reviewed and approved the FY21 County Road Aide Agreement and Resolution. Judge Gabbard explained that the court was expecting $1.17 million for the upcoming year but instead the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet only provided $1,031,636.59. This translates as a reduction of almost $140,000 from what was expected. Judge Gabbard explained that while this still sounds like a lot of money it doesn’t go very far when one considers that the average cost to blacktop a road is between $80,000 - $90,000 and Jackson County has over 600 miles of county roads. In addition, the way the funding gets distributed has changed. Normally, once the county’s share has been determined the fiscal court would get 65% of that money up front. This year the money will only be distributed as it is requested and as it is available from the state. “Not the best situation but this is what we are offered,” Judge Gabbard said. In addition, the county normally gets $226,000 earmarked to fund resurfacing projects for existing blacktop highways. This year that has been reduced to $204,000.
The next fiscal court meeting was scheduled for June 08, 2020.