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Welcoming visitors: Chamber discusses welcome center with Olive Hill council

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 When the Olive Hill depot building was purchased by the city there were a few stipulations. One was that the building must be maintained as a historical structure, meaning no significant changes can be made to the building and any repairs have to adhere to historical standards. The other, Olive Hill Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Messer-Conley said, was that the building be used as a visitor center and the trail head for Olive Hill as a Trail Town. 

Messer-Conley addressed city council about steps that could be taken to fulfill the stipulation that the building be used to welcome visitors to Olive Hill during council’s regular October meeting. She assured council that the chamber was not attempting to take ownership of the building from the city, but that they did want to open the building to visitors and use it as a place where they could share a little bit of the city’s history with visitors to Olive Hill and direct them to different local businesses based on their interests. 

“We’re not trying to cost (the city) any more money,” she said. “We’re not trying to take ownership… This will take the financial burden (of maintaining the building) off the city,” she said of the plan to make the depot self-sustainable. She explained that they would run the visitor center with a mix of grant funds and money earned by running a small gift shop, but that the main role would be a place to see local cultural and historical exhibits – including several items donated by Tom T. Hall – and to give out brochures and information on local businesses. For instance, if someone was interested in kayaking Tygart Creek, the visitor center could direct them to an outfitter who could rent them kayaks and guide them on a trip down the creek. Or, if they were interested in a place to eat, they could provide them with information on local restaurants. 

Though council took no action on approving the plans at the time of the meeting, they told Messer-Conley they would continue to look into the chamber’s request. 

Council also heard from Carter County Public Library director Christy Boggs. Boggs informed council that two of the library board members appointed by Olive Hill Council were stepping down, including board president Jeff Erwin. She told council she was looking for nominees from council and gave them a list of possible candidates who had expressed interest in serving on the board. 

Before acting, though, council had questions about whether the makeup of the board could change with Grayson’s refusal to fund their share of library funding. The board currently includes members approved by each city council and by the county fiscal court, but that might need to change if the Grayson branch was closed due to Grayson City Council not including library funding in their budget this year. 

Boggs told the Olive Hill Council the library was currently operating with an $8,000 deficit due to Grayson cutting their share of funding. 

In other action council passed an ordinance forbidding the discharge of firearms inside city limits, except in instances of protecting home, life or property, or when discharged in a designated indoor firing range. The city also passed their property tax ordinance for 2020. That ordinance set the tax rate at the compensating rate of .237 cents per $100 of valuation, for both real estate and tangibles. 

Council also adopted resolutions transferring retirement coverage for police from non-hazardous to hazardous retirement coverage, utilizing KRS form 7005 for employees hired prior to September 1, 2008 and KRS Form 7008 for employees hired after that date. 

Council also accepted department reports, including a report from Olive Hill police chief Bobby Hall related to plans to switch from .40 caliber to 9 mm handguns for police personnel. Hall said many departments are moving to the 9 mm because of the lighter weight and the cheaper cost of ammunition. He asked for permission to surplus the existing .40 caliber handguns as part of a trade-in deal for the 9 mm handguns, or to allow officers to purchase their current .40 calibers if they chose to do so. Council voted to approve Hall’s request to surplus the handguns. 

Hall also informed council of a program that will allow the department to receive military surplus rifles at no cost to the department, with a stipulation that the department will return the rifles if they ever upgrade or otherwise cease to utilize the rifles for police department usage. 

Council also discussed the possibility of adding paid fire department positions, but noted they would need to add any fire department employees to the pay scale before positions could be established and filled. 

Council also moved to approve a request from Mayor Jerry Callihan that city clerk and treasurer Chimila Hargett be made a FIVCO proxy for the mayor. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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