Brownies Creek’s water woes will soon begin to get better. An announcement was made at the Bell County Fiscal Court meeting on Tuesday that the court would approve a proposal for professional engineering services from Vaughn and Melton Consulting Engineers to make improvements on the Brownies Creek waterline.
Bell County Judge Executive Albey Brock stated that he and the fiscal court has had plans to improve the Brownies Creek water line for many years. “That has been the number one project because of the number of people that is negatively impacted by that water system,” said Brock.
According to Brock, it would cost $1.6 million to completely rehabilitate the system. Brock added that he has tried to get a million dollars for the project through two budget session and a middle session.
The court has saved roughly $650,000 for the project. Over the course of the past few years, as the water company has dealt with numerous problems, they have repaired a little bit of the system at a time.
When the final design for the improvements is complete, the total cost of the project is expected to less because of the small repairs that have already been done. With the $650,000 that has been saved, Brock and the fiscal court is going to improve parts of the water system to make it more reliable.
“We can go in and make this system considerably more reliable for these people, who are on a boil water [advisory] about as much as they are not,” said Brock.
He said that around 5,000 people are affected by this water system, including communities in Hutch, Colmar, Cubbage and parts of Page.
“It’s not as far as me and the water company wanted to go (in completely rehabilitating it), but it’s going to make a huge impact,” said Brock. “We are going to continue to try and get that other million dollars to do the things that pertain to the tank.”
Brock stated that they hope to see a positive impact by this winter.
The Middlesboro Black Veterans Association was recognized during the meeting for their contribution to the Bell County youth. The black veterans association was mainly recognized for their efforts in the annual Fish Fest held in Middlesboro.
“It would be safe to say that (Fish Fest) would not be the success that it has been had it not been for the assistance of the Middlesboro Black Veterans Association,” said Brock.
According to Brock, an enormous number of children have had the chance to fish that normally would not have. The veterans association helps with food preparation and helps sponsor the event.
The association was presented a plaque for their efforts. “Some of the most important work people do does not end up in history books or tabloids,” said Bell County Attorney Neil Ward. “One of those things is helping children, and that is one of the things these people have done.”
The fiscal court approved a resolution in support of assisting the Bell County Health Department in securing $500,000 of funding from KACO (Kentucky Association of Counties). This money will be used as start-up funds for the health department, which recently left the Cumberland Valley Health District.
The fiscal court has co-signed for the funds from KACO.
“I have no doubt that (the health department) will do great things. In the short few year with our health department, everybody is going to be proud,” said Brock.
Annual wages and salaries for all county employees were approved and will be effective the first pay period of July 2012. This includes the three percent raise for all county employees.
“This court has been prudent and we are in a financial shape that we can give a raise to our employee. I’m proud of that,” said Brock.
Some employees will receive a little more than three percent. This includes the county treasurer and two members of the treasurer’s staff. Other employees that will receive more than a three percent raise include Paul Wilson (Bell Co. Emergency Manager), Ben Barnett (assistance emergency manager), Clyde Johnson and Arnold Wade Collins (road department employees) and Josh Peters (ambulance director).
Changes were made to the Bell County Administrative Code during the meeting. One of those changes involves invoices from vendors. There has been times when vendors have sent an invoice to the court after the bills are already closed.
The court can only administer funds through the course of a regular fiscal court meeting. No money is paid out between meetings. This makes the court late on some invoices.
According to Brock, the vendors are aware that the payment may be a few days late. He stated that they do not mind this, but the Kentucky Revised Statues (KRS) states that bills have to be paid within 30 days.
To fix the problem, vendors are going to recognize that the court may be late with payment through a letter. The vendors will state that they are fine with being paid late.
The second change involves labor issues. Some county employees work through their lunch and break. In order to continue doing this, these employees will be required to sign a form that states they are aware that they are working through their lunch and break.
Bids were approved for stone, culverts and asphalt during the meeting. DGA grade material was awarded to Willis, while the other material involving stone was awarded to Hinkle contracting. Tile was awarded to Jim Brown Supply.
Two bids were accepted for asphalt. When work is being done on the south end of the county, asphalt will be picked up from Willis. When work is being done at the north end of the county, it will be picked up in Flat Lick.
Bids were set to be opened for the animal shelter renovation project at Tuesday’s meeting. Unfortunately, however no bids were submitted. The court decided to re-bid the project.
Other business that was taken care of include:
• Payment of bills and make necessary transfer.
• Acceptance of treasurer’s financial statement for previous month.
• Acceptance of sheriff’s claim sheet for fee account for previous month.
• Approval of second reading of Budget Amendment No. 6.
• Approval of a joint resolution of Harlan, Bell and Leslie County Fiscal Courts authorizing the filing of a LGEDF multi-county project application for up to $850,000 for the Appalachian Challenge Academy Project.
• Appointment of David Cook to the Bell County Board of Assessment for a three year term to replace Kenneth Sams (board members cannot be reappointed for three years).
• Approval of a resolution adopting and approving the execution of a County Road Aid Coop Program contract between the fiscal court and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Transportation Cabinet, Department of Rural and Municipal Aid for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012 as provided in the Kentucky Revised Statues and accepting all roads and streets referred to therein as being part of the county road system.
• Acceptance of Bell County Sheriff’s audit for fiscal year ending 12-31-11.
• Approval of a memorandum of agreement between the Commonwealth of Kentucky State Board of Elections and Bell County.
• Hiring of Nick Smith and Andrew Abbott as part-time, seasonal workers at $7.25 per hour effective 6-13-12 for the Bell County Road Department.
• Hiring of Jacob Crawford as part-time Bell County EMT at $7.25 per hour effective 6-15-12.
• Hiring of Corey Miller as part-time Bell County EMT at $7.25 per hour effective 6-12-12.
• Accept checks in the amount of $32,417.51 from Bruce Bennett, sheriff.
• Acceptance of checks from Becky Blevins, Bell County Court Clerk.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.