Brownies Creek resident Jennifer Wilson attended the Bell County Fiscal Court meeting on Tuesday to present ongoing concerns of the community’s water situation.
Presenting the court with a petition containing 161 names, Wilson expressed concerns on the quality of the water and the lack of an adequate supply.
Wilson told the court 70 percent of the people who live in the Brownies Creek area are elderly. She said the remaining residents are working families.
The water is not healthy enough to drink, she said, adding water filters are supposed to work for six weeks but only work for three due to the quality of the water customers receive.
Wilson also brought a bucket and cup to represent what residents have to use as a shower each time the water goes off.
The ongoing problem is affecting the children’s education, she said, noting the kids have to be excused from school often because there is no water.
“It’s a travesty, the length of time you all have to go without water,” said Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock.
Brock said it has been hard to get money from the federal and state governments to fund projects such as this.
There has been some money provided to fund a project on the Brownies Creek water service, but it will not completely fix the problem, according to Brock.
Brock said he hopes the project, which will replace some of the bad pipes in the area, will make the water service more reliable.
In another matter during the meeting, Brock addressed the increased tax bills. Brock stated the increase has nothing to do with any action taken by the fiscal court.
He said the Bell County School District enacted the nickel tax increase, which is the reason the bills increased. However, Brock said he knows the school system has needs requiring revenue.
Brock said fiscal court sets the property tax rate which has been the same for at least the past six years.
Shifting conversation to the recent election, Brock said he knows many people were upset with the outcome of the presidential election. According to Brock, 73 percent of the people in Bell County voted for Mitt Romney, mainly because of the attack on coal through increased regulations and environmental guidelines imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Brock said the EPA is not just attacking coal at the permitting process, but the use of coal as a whole. Brock said the EPA has enacted regulations that cannot be met.
Because of the outcome of the election and the continued and growing attack on coal, Brock asked the people of Bell County and the region to “keep their money at home” when making purchases.
“When you go Christmas shopping, try our mall out. Don’t automatically go to Knoxville to Christmas shop,” said Brock.
A few bid packages were opened involving the Brownies Creek Community Park. Hinkle Contracting will be awarded the bid for blacktopping pending review of the bid.
Environmental and Safety Management was awarded the construction portion of the bid pending review and approval of the bid.
In other action, the court:
* Approved minutes from previous meeting;
* Paid bills and made necessary funding transfers;
* Accepted the treasurer’s financial statement for the previous month;
* Accepted the sheriff’s claim sheet for the fee account from the previous month;
* Opened bids on blacktopping for Federal Emergency Management Association projects;
* Approved payment of $62,208.56 to Hinkle Contracting Co. for paving of county roads with notation to be paid when funds are received;
* Approved payment of $138,860 to Willis Paving Inc. for paving of county roads. Payment will be made when funds are received;
* Approved payment of $13,680 to Vaughn and Melton Consulting Engineers for Abbey Lane Bridge Design. Payment will be made when funds are received;
* Approved payment of $43,443 to Environmental & Safety Management for the Bell County Animal Shelter Renovation Project, to be paid when inspected and released by James Adams, architect;
* Approved a budget amendment for the Bell County Clerk’s Fee account for 2012;
* Accepted Bowls Hollow Road Extension into the Bell County Road System in District 2;
* Accepted checks in the amount of $59,825.20 from Bruce Bennett, sheriff;
* Accepted checks from Becky Blevins, clerk.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 208.