By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Logan Middleton is working towards his Eagle Scout rank, and as part of that he has to do a project. For his project, Middleton wants to do something to make Olive Hill’s J.A. “Skinny” Raybourn Park more inviting and pleasant – he wants to clean up the park’s amphitheater.
Middleton came to the last meeting of Olive Hill city council to seek the city’s blessing for the project. The teen told council he wants to paint over graffiti in the performance space, as well as build new seats and repair the busted wall and door at the rear of the space. Middleton told council he isn’t asking the city for any financial assistance, or for city employees to do any work. Members of his troop will provide all the labor for the project, he said, and they will purchase the lumber and any other supplies they need through their own fundraising efforts.
All he needed from the city, he said, was their permission to move forward.
Council voted unanimously to grant Middleton permission to proceed with his project. If you’re interested in supporting the project with cash or material donations, you can contact Middleton’s mother, Kayla Middleton, at (606)316-1475, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The scout told council he hopes to start the project by August, and to finish it by September.
In other action, council heard an update on the water plant – with the Trane representative telling council that, structure wise, they were around halfway complete. But that estimate was given only after prodding from councilman Chris Bledsoe on how far along the project was.
After hearing the report, Bledsoe wasn’t the only one skeptical of progress on the energy savings project.
Council only owes the company about $3.9 million of the total $10 million on the project – which means they’ve paid more than 60 percent of the total due for about half the work.
Councilman Kirk Wilburn echoed the concerns of several other council members when he said he “hated to pay ahead” when the company wasn’t progressing on the project.
Bledsoe said it wasn’t necessarily the payment schedule that bothered him as much as the lack of communication from the company.
“I’m just concerned about not seeing a more official report,” Bledsoe said.
Wilburn noted that since he rejoined council he hasn’t seen a single official report.
“I’ve been here eight months and I haven’t seen anything,” Wilburn said of the stalled project. He noted that all he’s seen are “a couple sheets of paper,” meanwhile council has paid Trane “more than $2 million” over that period.
Bledsoe made a motion to table the most recent request for disbursement from Trane, with Wilburn seconding and council voting unanimously to withhold payment until they received more detailed information on progress at the facility.
In other action council heard from Eric Patton, with FIVCO, on a cleaner water grant and other grant opportunities for the community. Patton said there was currently $325,000 in grant funding reserved for Olive Hill, to be used for a leak detection and spot fix project. He said they were ready to move forward with that project, and that Olive Hill could receive up to $700,000 in the next round of funding, which could include mayor Jerry Callihan’s suggested sewer plant upgrades.
“Water and sewer are both permissible,” Patton told the mayor. “It’s a cleaner water grant,” he said, emphasizing the “er.”
Max Hammond also discussed plans to map and develop a bike route at the city lake as part of a grant from the International Mountain Bike Association. Hammond and Patton also discussed an MSU professor who wants to use the city as an “agronomy field training location,” to create wildflower gardens to catch run-off and mitigate flooding, among other sustainability projects.
Council also moved to adopt the update to their occupational tax ordinance, increasing the rate from 1.5 percent to two percent, with councilman Wayne Russell voting “no” on the amendment and all others voting in favor of the increase.
Council also moved to adopt their budget (both the budget and the text of the tax ordinance are printed on page 8 of this edition), accept fire, police, and code enforcement reports, accept the treasurer’s report, and approve a conditional use request from Brandon Hamilton for a development at 991 Town and Country Lane.
That land is zoned agricultural, but approved conditional uses that council can consider – other than residential, woodlot, and agricultural – include rehabilitation homes. Hamilton said his client wants to use the property for an in-patient residential home.
Though some council members said they had heard concerns from parents, because of the proximity of the property to the elementary school, Hamilton said the “main outlet” won’t be near the school, but further west.
Wilburn, whose family owns property in the area, said if a person was on foot the closest outlet would be via Samantha Street, not near the school.
Hamilton helped alleviate some concerns when he confirmed there would be paid staff on site “24 hours a day.”
But councilman Eric Rayburn said he was concerned about violating civil rights if they denied the request, adding he was more worried about people living in the city who were not in treatment than those who were in treatment for a substance abuse issue.
The mayor noted that the city didn’t need to endorse another treatment center in the city to approve the request.
“The city doesn’t need to endorse this… it’s a legal matter,” Callihan said.
Shannon Shutte, who expressed the concerns of those opposed to more treatment centers, and Wilburn, whose family owns property in the neighborhood, both abstained from the motion, with all other council members voting yes.
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