By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Photo by Lisa Bicknell
In back row, Kevin Williams, Marty Snowden, Bill Eldridge, and Darrell Johnson. In front row, Rodney Davis, Sherry Fox, Kim Dawes, Ann Rogers, Sheila Dixon and Christine Brandenburg. Estill County will have a new fiscal court after the first of the year.
The December meeting of the Estill County Fiscal Court was filled with good-byes and well wishes, as the current court prepares to be replaced with new magistrates, a new judge, a new county clerk and a new county attorney.
Judge-executive Kevin Williams began the meeting by calling for a moment of silence for Elbert “Bud” Freeman, who died last week. He was known for diligently tending the courthouse landscaping for many years.
County treasurer Ann Rawlins read a short tribute to Freeman: “Bud will be remembered for his grounds maintenance that he took such pride in, which showed in our lawn…especially the beautiful rose bushes that he cared for so meticulously.
“The arrival of spring will always be shared in memory of him as each rose bud blossoms.”
William Hardy and Phillip Thomas presented the court with a check for $5,000 on behalf of Carhartt. The donation is to help build a pavilion at the Kentucky River Park and Recreation Area.
Afterward, Judge Williams took some time during his monthly address to thank all the department heads and his staff who made “a real team effort,” to help turn the county’s financial status around during this one year tenure as judge.
He says Estill County is now known as the “come-back county,” with its affairs in much better order, $140,000 in the general fund, $218,000 in the road fund, and contracts signed three months ago to have roads repaired. Williams apologized that they have not yet been completed, but said, “It’s not my fault.”
The weather has not cooperated, causing a backlog of projects for Hinkle to complete.
Williams said the county’s government is running itself pretty good, and he hopes the new administration will keep “moving on and moving forward, while doing what’s best for the county and not what’s best for a few.”
The opioid crisis is still creating a drain on the county’s budget, with 70 people incarcerated on Thursday. The county budgeted for 50, which Williams called “a big guess,” and a number that has been consistently surpassed.
EDA director Joe Crawford said he and ten others traveled to Somerset for an Opportunity Zone Workshop. He explained that the money for funding of special projects is coming from capital gains, and that investors will get preferential tax treatment for investing in local entities. The purpose of the Opportunity Zones is to encourage investment in less prosperous areas of the country.
Crawford also reported that CSX has donated a gondola car with 2000 feet of usable rail to the Kentucky Steam Heritage Corporation.
Derrick Muncie, county fire chief, reported that fire service runs for the year are down substantially, from 330-350 in past years to 280 this year.
On behalf of the fire department, he thanked Judge Williams and the fiscal court for their support.
Estill County jailer Bo Morris, had only this to report: “About the only thing I know, is they come to jail, they get outta jail.”
He also said his staff deserves more recognition for the work they do.
Animal shelter director/solid waste coordinator Tommy Mullen is expecting to hear some good news from a foundation that has awarded millions of dollars to seven shelters in northern Kentucky. Mullen said the Estill County shelter euthanized no animals this year, although they had 1152 dogs, 752 cats, and an assortment of other animals housed there this year.
He also said that six “very well hidden” cameras at dumping sites have led to some arrests, and that one person who was caught dumping on Chestnut Stand cleaned it up in two days after coming to an understanding that he/she could be fined a minimum of $500, plus court costs, and ordered to do twenty hours of community service.
Mullen reported that 34 individuals brought in 31,000 pounds of garbage during last week’s free dump day.
New business addressed by the fiscal court:
•James Woolery was appointed to the Hollerwood Multi-County Recreation Board.
•Attorney Rodney Davis advised that the distillery at Cow Creek that has gone wet must have an Alcohol and Beverage Control administrator, per state requirement. The court agreed to assign that duty to the deputy Judge Executive and pay that person $300 a year.
•The court agreed to create a Railroad Advisory Committee. Recommendations to the committee include Joe Crawford, Myra Finney, Teresa Dawes, Rodney Davis, Kathy Samples, Kim Dawes, Roger Richardson and Kevin Williams. The next administration will appoint the committee.
•An ordinance was established to discontinue and remove 0.395 miles of Stewart Fork Rd. from county maintenance.
•An annual salary cap of $220,000 for the county clerk, deputies and assistants was approved.
•The county clerk’s 2019 budget was approved ($2,678,187).
•The court gave approval to open bank accounts for the KY River Park and Recreation Area and for the Irvine/Estill County joint Tourism board.
•Judge Williams said two major water leaks, one near the courthouse and one at the park, have been found and repaired and will save the county hundreds of dollars per month. With the money saved, he recommended a thirty cent an hour raise for part-time and full time county employees. He also recommended that two temporary employees be moved to full-time. The court approved.
•Coroner Tony Murphy said he has test-driven a 2009 GMC van that he thinks will be suitable for use by the coroner. He said he doesn’t know of a time when the county coroner had its own vehicle, that Toler Funeral Home has always allowed them to use theirs. The court approved the purchase.
Before the meeting adjourned, County Attorney Rodney Davis presented a Paul Sawyier painting to Sherry Fox, who is retiring after 37 years in the county attorney’s office.