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Books, bridges and landing pads: Fiscal court meets in special session

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 The Carter County Public Library was at the top of the agenda when fiscal court met in special session last week. 

The future of the library has been in question since the city of Grayson chose to discontinue their share of funding for the library earlier this year. The library, which has a branch in Grayson and a branch in Olive Hill, has been funded since its opening with equal financial support from each of those cities and the county. But when Grayson mayor George Steele chose not to include funding for the library in the budget he presented to the city earlier this year, the library had to consider the possibility of closing the Grayson branch. Steele, who has said he would support a county wide tax to support the library, has made it clear he feels the financial responsibility for the library should be placed completely on the county, not split between the county and the two cities. Steele has approached the county about covering the total costs for the library – either by using money from the county’s general fund or by instituting a library tax – but he has made it clear that he has no plans to add library funding back into the city of Grayson’s budget. 

On the other end of the county Olive Hill has chosen to continue funding their share of the library, but with the caveat that if a branch has to close due to insufficient funding it will not be the Olive Hill branch, which the library board agreed to. Judge executive Mike Malone, meanwhile, has discussed the possibility of having the county fund the entire cost for running the library in previous meetings, but told fiscal court if the county chose to pick up the share of funding Grayson dropped he felt it was only fair to also cover the share for the Olive Hill branch. Fiscal court, however, has taken a “wait and see” stance instead of choosing to fund the entire cost of the library at this time. 

While there is a group of concerned citizens who have gotten the library on the agenda for the next meeting of Grayson City Council, with hopes that they can come to some agreement with the mayor and city council, the county pledged their continued support for the library in their last meeting. That support, fiscal court has now said, will continue even if the Grayson branch ends up closing. 

“The county needs a library” Malone told the court shortly before magistrates moved to approve a motion that the county continue their share of funding for the library even if it has to cut back to one branch. 

In other action the court discussed the funding of an EMS helipad at the western end of the county. EMS have recently began refurbishing the helipad behind in the EMS office in Grayson. That upgrade includes new striping and the installation of lights. But EMS director Rick Loperfido has said the county also needs another helipad on the western end of the county for emergencies occurring nearer to Olive Hill than Grayson that require helicopter transport to a hospital. 

“We have one here (in Grayson) and we probably need one over there,” Malone told the fiscal court before asking magistrates to approve the costs related to pouring and outfitting a concrete helipad on the western end of the county. 

Magistrates voted to approve the costs once EMS is able to find a suitable location for the pad. 

Court also moved to set election policy for county employees, granting them up to four hours of paid time off to vote, but giving them that time on Friday to participate in early voting rather than on election day. While fiscal court cannot see how employees vote, they can see if employees have signed the voter rolls, and employees would only be granted the paid time off if they signed in to vote. 

The county also discussed road and bridge issues. Malone told the court that road crews “will get the cold paving done this year,” and that the county also received almost $200,000 in discretionary funds for repairs to two county roads. Those funds are earmarked for West Brinegar Road and Huffs Run Road and must be used for paving projects on those roads only. 

The court also discussed bridges, moving to solicit bids for bridge projects. Malone said the county also expected bridge material to be delivered in the coming week for already approved bridge replacements on Appaloosa Lane and Flat Fork Road. Malone said no engineer stamp was needed on the bridges, which are on solid foundations, but that this would impact the weight rating of the bridges. If the bridges need to be rated for a higher load limit than the minimum weight rating an engineer would need to inspect and stamp the bridges. 

     Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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