In order to continue with social distancing guidelines, Middlesboro City Council held their June meeting at the Community Center.

One of the biggest items on the agenda was the second reading of the July 2020 through June 2021 fiscal budget.

“Everybody had a hand in this,” explained Mayor Rick Nelson of the budget. “Each department head that you see over here, Sandy, everybody sat down and we went over each line item. Chief Busic, we sat down, we did his budget. Robbie did, Josh, and not only did I go over it with them but you as a council, you sat down without me and talked to them about that too. So, I think that’s a big deal that everybody has had a hand in it and that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

The Mayor then asked councilwoman Glynna Brown to make a motion to approve the second reading of the Middlesboro City budget.

“Mr. Mayor I want to make a motion to support the annual budget for fiscal year July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021,” Brown said of the second reading.

Councilwoman Judy Grandy seconded the motion followed by Middlesboro Clerk Sandra Wilson doing a roll call with all the council approving the fiscal budget.

“I want to compliment the council on how well they have worked together, how transparent they’ve been,” Mayor Nelson stated. “A couple of years ago the day before the new budget was coming and some of you had to vote on the budget so, this is the way that it’s supposed to be and it’s about an $11 million budget. We appreciate each one of you council members for doing the job that you’ve done on it.”

Other items on the agenda included reading over two bids that were presented for the blacktop work that is anticipated to be done. The two bids received were from Hinkle and Willis Paving. The bids were read over and then turned over councilman Terry Poore who is the chairman of the Middlesboro Street Committee. 

The council also voted to put Joan Miller and David Whilock on the Historical Commission. Councilman Bo Green made a motion to accept them on the commission and it received a second from councilman Boone Bowling with all of the council approving.

Larry Grandy, the new director of Middlesboro Main Street gave an update on all of the projects that are continuing within the city. He explained that work is continuing on the Elk Home rehabilitation. They are continuing to remove the asbestos from inside and the dumpster behind the building will be removed in the upcoming weeks.

The Levitt Lot has continued to remain busy despite not having the annual AMP Concert Series.

“Many of you may know that the YogaNook, which is on Cumberland Ave. has been having yoga exercises,” Grandy explained. “We have been making use of the lot instead of letting it sit there for over a year and not be used. They are using it at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., so that has been beneficial for them.”

He told the council that the concert series will be going on virtually with the Levitt group. It was scheduled to start on June 27 but it has been pushed back to July due to some of the issues with some of the groups.

“I’ll be meeting with the Levitt group on a bridge grant on Thursday on a discussion on the Levitt Lot,” Grandy explained. “The Levitt group has graciously given each one of us $5,000 to do something on our facility and we are thinking about discussing painting some type of mural on that wall.”

He said the sprinkler system at the Levitt Lot is back up and functioning and grass is starting to grow.

“The fountain at the corner of Cumberland Ave. has been repaired and all the flowers have been painted in it,” he continued. “They are moving forward on repairs on the other fountains.”

He also said that the flowers are doing really well on the Avenue and that the Farmers Market is open on Friday’s at 8 a.m. at the lot across from Home Federal Bank and next to the EconoLodge on Cumberland Ave.

“In two weeks they will have corn available,” Grandy said. “They do have a pretty good assortment, so I encourage you to stop out and see them.”

During the department reports, Fire Chief Robbie England was the first to give an update on the Middlesboro Fire Department.

“We managed to have a pretty good month in the fire department,” England explained to the council. “Our revenue and ambulance calls were down for the month of May and also April not near as much as we expected with everything that is going on.”

According to England, they are trying to find other avenues to help recoup and recover some of the revenue lost because of the decline in revenue and ambulance calls. He also said that they are working on the reopening of station two.

“We are trying to phase station two back in,” England told the council. “It will start out slow and we will probably have to get up there in the evenings and nights when we’re not so busy.”

Training hours for the Middlesboro Fire Department included 521 hours and 66 classes with everything being online due to COVID-19.

In the police department report, Chief Busic told the council that service calls are continuing to increase with 798 calls in May.

Kevin Barnett gave the council the monthly report from the street department. He said their next project is to work on the fireworks for the upcoming Fourth of July fireworks show. He also wanted to let the public know that on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. they are opening the street department so people can bring their ‘junk’ and drop it off.

“Some weekends we have quite a bit and some weekends we don’t,” he said. “I’ve seen from where we have to do pick ups that it’s helped because there’s not as much for us.”

According to TIm Kelley with the Codes Enforcement Board, they are continuing to tag abandoned vehicles throughout the city. He said that they have tagged up to 50 vehicles and there are more on the list.

“We are still moving along on that project and we will continue to until we get most of the vehicles, abandoned vehicles in the city moved,” Kelley said. “Building inspections are still continuing at a moderate pace. I need to get a few more building inspections done and they will be done in the next couple of weeks.”

He also reported that they have 19 abandoned houses on their list to be torn down and several violations are being issued for the high grass and rubbish within the city. He wants to let the public know that they are still issuing building licenses and permits but they are by appointment only. You must call the Codes Enforcement Board to make the appointment.

The next meeting of the Codes Enforcement Board will be July 7 at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

All department reports were approved by the council. There were no public comments and Mayor Nelson gave a brief update on the city stating that City Hall does still remain closed.

The next date of the City Council work session will be held on Tuesday, July 14 at 7 p.m. and the next regular City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 21 at 7 p.m. The location for the meeting is yet to be determined.

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