By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
The Carter County Detention Center is “COVID free at the moment,” according to jailer R.W. Boggs. Boggs shared that information with Carter County fiscal court during their regular meeting on Monday night, held via Zoom teleconference because of COVID-19 restrictions. Boggs said that, after having several inmates test positive for the virus earlier this year, he is now one of the few jails in eastern Kentucky that doesn’t have anyone with the virus inside their facility.
Boggs attributed the jail’s success in preventing another outbreak in part to their stringent disinfection regime. He said the jail uses a machine they purchased for sanitizing surfaces in the jail “pretty much 24/7.”
“Apparently it works,” he told Judge Executive Mike Malone, who asked about the process, explaining that is was similar to an ionizer.
Another reason the jail has stayed COVID free, he said, has to do with restrictions on visitation. He said he doesn’t like restricting visitation, especially at the holidays, but that he has to follow state mandates.
“It’s not good for morale, on any side,” he said of the visitation ban. “Especially with the holidays, I hate it for them and their families.”
But, he added, it’s a necessary step to take while infection rates are up and until the vaccine becomes readily available, because of the difficulty in identifying those who are not yet showing symptoms.
“It’s easier to spot drugs coming through the door than COVID,” he said.
In other action the court moved to approve a number of items related to the sheriff’s department. This included the sheriff’s state advancement application, the sheriff’s state advancement bond, the sheriff’s 2021 budget, and the sheriff’s 2021 annual order setting maximum salaries.
The court also adopted a resolution relating to Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for Pathways. The CDBG, which the court approves every year, helps fund the mental health service, including addiction related programs.
In other department reports the court heard from road department head Jason Carroll on the recent gravelling of a cemetery road. While the county doesn’t typically maintain all cemetery roads in the county, many of which cross private property, landowners are required to provide access to cemeteries and the road department will put gravel down on cemetery roads prior to a funeral if a request is made.
On the recent project Carroll worked a four-man crew for two days, putting down 10 truckloads of gravel and grading the road to make it passable. This resulted in a significant cost in man hours and materials.
While the fiscal court didn’t take any action on the issue at the present time, judge executive Mike Malone said it’s something the court will need to discuss in the near future. He said, because of the cost, the county may need to set some limits on what services they provide to keep cemetery roads passable.
“What will be the limit?” Malone asked.
Carroll told the court that he could think of two possible options for the county.
One option would be for the county to maintain cemetery roads on a regular basis, including providing adequate drainage ditches and grading to keep gravel from washing away immediately after a funeral. This work could be done when the county was maintaining other roads in the same area as cemetery roads.
The other option, he said, was to stop providing service on cemetery roads that cross private property altogether, unless they were a part of the county road system that was already maintained, because of the significant costs involved in making them passable when they hadn’t been used in years in some instances.
Malone also discussed CARES Act reimbursements with the court, noting that he has made a request for further reimbursements related to the emergency ambulance board, because of the significant cost increases for that department related to COVID-19, including increased overtime costs.
He also discussed problems with the leaking roof on the old jail, explaining that the county would need to consider their options and come to a decision about the building in a future meeting as well. He said the court will need to either make plans to maintain the structure, or consider tearing it down altogether, noting that the second option was sure to prove unpopular among some residents.
The court also moved to donate four gift cards to local food pantries.
The gift cards had been sent to the county as a gift by one of their vendors, Malone explained, but state rules prevent county officials from accepting such gifts. While they initially discussed whether they could legally and ethically hold a drawing among county staff – excluding supervisors – and award the gift cards to four county employees, they eventually decided it was less problematic to donate them to a non-governmental charity.
Two of the gift cards will be provided to a food bank in the city of Olive Hill and two will be given to a food bank in Grayson.
Malone also reported that he had been in contact with health department head Jeff Barker about the distribution of vaccines. Malone said the county will be receiving vaccines from Moderna and from Pfizer, some as soon as next week.
Those vaccines will be administered by the health department and by local pharmacies under the direction of the health department, with the first doses going to nursing homes. After nursing homes, other frontline personnel such as EMTs would be offered the vaccine.
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