By Lisa Bicknell
The Estill County Fiscal Court heard reports from several county leaders during Monday afternoon’s meeting.
Candie McMaine, with the health department, reported that 295 people have been tested in Estill County for COVID-19, with 284 testing negative and 11 results pending as of Monday evening.
She said testing kits are available from Gravity Lab with the capacity to test 250 people a week. The health department is partnering with local providers who conduct the tests, then the tests are brought to the health department and sent in. Test results typically come back within 24 hours.
McMaine said two percent of the population of the county has now been tested, which compares to 3 percent of the state’s population.
“I hope everyone who wants to will be tested,” said McMaine.
B.J. McGee, director of the Senior Citizen Center, said Estill County’s is one of the few senior centers still providing meals every single day.
McGee said she and her staff miss their patrons, and they try to find ways to cheer them up. They offer rides to the grocery and pharmacy, and the center still provides commodities to 140 people. Pickup is different, in that they package items from pallets and load them in the cars. They also include word searches, puzzles, etc. with their food packets.
McGee said the center recently held a stuffed animal drive and some individuals have donated other items.
In February, the center prepared 589 meals; in April, they delivered 1582 meals, and in May they have already delivered 811 meals.
“Thank you for a tremendous job,” said Judge-executive Donnie Watson.
Jimmy Wise, director of the ambulance service, also provided an update. He explained that they’ve been holding lots of trainings, so that staff will know what to look for and be better prepared to screen patients and prevent the spread of disease.
He also expressed some concern that the ambulance service is 200 runs below what they normally do by this time of year. He said people are scared, and they are putting off going to the doctor. He emphasized that the ambulances and hospitals are cleaner than ever.
Wise said, “I appreciate the public and what they’ve done to stay safe.”
Judge-executive Watson read a proclamation declaring May 18 through the 24 as National EMS Services Week.
Sheriff Chris Flynn reported that his department is recovering some larger items that have been reported stolen including a log-splitter and a full-size tractor.
He said his office is still open with one employee working at a time, and a full-time third shift deputy is now on staff.
Flynn also said his department seized 40 neglected animals last week and an investigation is ongoing.
County Attorney Jason Riley said his office has also been working on an increased load of drug cases. He said they’ve seized a lot of money and issued a lot of search warrants. He doesn’t yet know when the court system will open back up.
Notifications of delinquent tax bills are being sent out, and Riley said to call to set up a payment plan to prevent foreclosures.
Jailer Bo Morris reported on the prisoner count, which has been down some, but he’s noticed an increase in recent weeks in DUIs and domestic calls.
Fire Department Chief Derrick Muncie said calls have been up quite a bit from last year with a total of 161 runs so far this year. Last year at this time they had 125 runs.
He also said his department is holding a lot of trainings through ZOOM.
Hargett Fire Chief Rob Forehand said his department shares a lot of runs with Powell County and other Estill departments, as he reported that there has been considerably less calls to the curve by the pond on Hwy. 82 which was resurfaced. He said 82 is still one of the more dangerous roads in the county, but it has improved.
Animal shelter Tommy Mullen said there will be more spay neuter clinics in the future, as he reported that the number of cats being brought to the shelter is down. He said the number of dogs remains about the same. He is hopeful that the shelter can begin accepting animals from another county soon, which he said will make the shelter self-sufficient financially.
Judge Watson said that Little Doe Creek, Little Rock, Pitts, John Rawlins, and Woodland Estates roads are now resurfaced, but there are two more to go.
He also reported that one of the county employees, whose retirement account “fell through the cracks” and hadn’t been paid into for ten years, will be caught up. He said his office started paying on it around March of last year.
Watson reminded everyone to fill out their census. As of last week, 61 percent of the county’s population had filled out the census.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Estill County Fiscal Court is June 15 at 5 p.m.