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Uncle Jack Fultz’s Memories of Carter County: Water, Water everywhere – Paper supported waterworks 100 years ago this week

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Representatives of the Olive Hill and Grayson Fire Departments recently went before the Fiscal Court to ask for an investment to help employ paid firefighters over the weekends. Each of the cities is already covering the costs for part-time paid crews through the week – when volunteers often have a harder time responding because of their day jobs. Covering the weekend shifts, Olive Hill Fire Chief Jeremy Rodgers told the court, would enable the two cities to respond more quickly to fires both in and outside of the city. It would also help improve the insurance costs for homeowners within the areas served by the two cities. 

Exactly one hundred years ago this week though, in the March 31, 1921 edition of the Carter County Herald, the people of Olive Hill were looking to get a water works and, there again, the improvements to fire safety were brought up as one of the reasons for doing so. 

“(W)hen the sound of the gun and the cry of ‘fire’ from hill to hill, and then you realize what it is that you and all the remainder of the citizens of Olive Hill need – Water Works,” the paper read. 

“(W)hy can’t we do something like we did to get this great addition (streetlights) and get something that will lessen our insurance and at the same time give us a benefit?” the paper asked. 

The paper estimated that the addition of running water could cause insurance rates to drop from five percent of value to two percent. 

The paper went on to ask readers if “thinking minds” shouldn’t “ponder on” whether the best course of action was to continue on, “in the present way of ‘bucket brigade’ or to get our feet out of the mire and place them upon higher planes.”

While it might be hard to imagine today that anyone would be opposed to having running water in their city and homes, we have also seen opposition to progress for no other reason than folks are sometimes averse to change. 

Still yet our fire insurance rates – and our noses – can be grateful that Olive Hill did eventually decide to provide running water to the people of the city. 

Editor’s Note: This is the 37th in a series of articles drawn from historical newspaper clippings in the collection of the late Jack Fultz.

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