Mayor David Thompson presented the city council with his State of the City of Barbourville Address during last night’s council meeting. The council also held second readings of three ordinances, passed a funding resolution, and approved property for surplus.
Before conducting formal business, Mayor Thompson took time to honor recent Western Kentucky University Graduate Joel Sizemore. Sizemore has long attended First Baptist and participated in ministry and mission trips. He was hired straight out of college by a Lexington engineering firm.
The council heard the second reading of three ordinances. The first regarded amendments to the city’s budget; the coronavirus pandemic caused changes in the city’s income that required some changes to the overall budget. The second ordinance dealt with adopting changes to the Code of Ordinances to bring them in line with changes to state law.
The final ordinance establishes a hardship grant for Barbourville Utilities customers based on the state of emergency declared due to Covid-19. The hardship grant is meant to help those struggling to pay utility bills due to the pandemic and has been given $50,000 by the city; funds are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The council also passed a resolution to work with the Knox County Fiscal Court in applying for an economic development grant. The grant would support the renovation of the old Barbourville Nursing Home by KCEOC into a new vocational school. The Work Ready Training Center will be operated by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.
The council approved three vehicles for surplus. A 2009 Ford F150 from the street department, a seized 1999 Ford Ranger, and a 2016 Dodge Charger police cruiser. The vehicles will be available on govdeals.com
In his State of the City Address, Mayor Thompson spoke of the many projects the city completed in 2020 and some upcoming projects for 2021.
The city’s Blink fiber optic internet projected was completed last year, giving customers up to one gigabit of data speeds per second. Several street and Christmas lights have also been replaced with cheaper and more efficient LED’s, with more to come. In more power news, upgrades to the Cumberland Avenue substation were completed early this year. In the coming year, the city hopes to make upgrades to water towers.
Thompson praised the police department’s new K-9, Chaby, calling the German Shepard a “huge success.” In 2020 the department added three new cruisers and upgraded the computer systems in each one. Officers were also provided new patrol rifles. He also touted the 50 plus kids served by shop-with-a-cop and added that the city hopes to add another police officer to the force in 2021. Thompson also mentioned the fire department’s new, $475,000 truck.
One of 2020’s biggest announcement was the new Barbourville drive-in, located on city property adjacent to the old water park. Thompson reiterated that the city had been unable to come to an agreement with the Union College Board of Directors for nearly two years on the park property, prompting the dissolution of the waterpark. The city has continued to maintain the Barbourville City Park, much of which sits on college property, and Thompson expects to continue upkeep on the park. The mayor also spoke of the new disc golf course at Thompson park and stated that the long delayed new playground should be installed soon.
Thompson closed with praise for the Barbourville Street Department and their work in maintaining the city. Councilwoman Wilma Barnes joined in with particular praise for Street Department Director Jason lake, calling his hiring the “best thing we ever did.”
Thompson thanked the people of Barbourville for their support and in allowing him to continue to serve as mayor before the council went into executive session.