By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Estill County Judge-executive Wallace Taylor welcomed Bill Eldridge to the fiscal court as Magistrate of District 2 during Monday night’s fiscal court meeting.
Eldridge replaces Gerry Flannery, who recently moved to another district and is therefore ineligible to serve.
Estill County Fire Chief Derrick Muncie reported on an “interesting year” with the fire department.
Despite extremely dry conditions this fall, the number of calls to the department remained about average, with very few woodland fires reported.
“Thanks to the public; they’ve been very understanding and very cooperative,” Muncie stated. The county instated a county-wide burn ban that lasted almost a month, possibly the longest total ban burn ever, Muncie said.
County jailer Bo Morris was present at the meeting to answer questions regarding jail operating procedures.
Morris said the state inspector wrote him up, because the jail has not had a new jail operating procedure approved for about 18 years.
Judge Taylor recommended that the county approve the procedure policy to “appease the state,” with the option to amend the document after further review.
The county approved the county clerk’s annual budget and a $200,000 salary cap, as they do each year. The salary budget pays for all the county clerk’s employees’ salaries.
The sheriff’s annual transport billing statement was presented to the court for approval, which they gave, and the sheriff’s department salary of $215,000 was also approved, which pays all sheriff’s department employees’ salaries.
Magistrate Gerald Rader commended both the fire and sheriff’s departments, and said he never gets calls of complaint on either of them.
The sheriff’s advance settlement of $50,000 was approved, as is standard procedure each year. The money will be paid back after the first of the year.
The treasurer’s report was accepted into the minutes, and transfers of funds were approved, with the exception of general to jail for the amount of $92,000, with Judge Taylor and Magistrate Eldridge voting no to the transfer.
When the fiscal court’s vote on a motion is tied, it dies, or fails to pass.
Taylor asked County Attorney Rodney Davis about the “rocket docket.” Davis said the county has not yet been approved for the rocket docket, which would hasten the process of getting inmates through the court system.
However, Davis said that he remains hopeful that Estill County will get approved in the next round.
A motion to approve the Finance officer’s report and to pay claims was approved.
In ‘other considerations’ on the agenda, Jailer Morris said the Department of Corrections has threatened to close down the jail if the jail does not have a smoke ventilation zone fixed to meet requirements by January 3.
Andrew Hayes, who owns property in the Mountain Springs Rd. area, said that the gate where the road has been blocked has been removed, but vehicles and machinery have been parked on either side of the road, so that most traffic has been unable to access the formerly gated road.
Hayes said he has been told that another gate has been erected further out the road. He also said two large dogs were near the gate and he didn’t feel safe to go past them.
County Attorney Davis recommended someone from the county walk to the gate to install the sign, and if the landowners still don’t unblock, the county can file a lawsuit.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Estill County Fiscal Court is January 16 at 6 p.m. at the Estill County Courthouse.