By Sean Bailey / Staff Writer
Thanks to a state grant, Whitley County will be getting rid of 16 of its worst open dumps.
During the Whitley County Fiscal Court’s regular meeting Tuesday the court opened and approved $135,128.29 in bids to clean 16 of the county’s 30 worst dump sites. The county received a $181,164.79 grant from the state Energy and Environment Division of Waste Management to clean up the dumps.
The county is required to provide 25 percent in matching funds for the project, but with the bids coming in at less than the grant monies allotted, Director of County Projects Tracy West said the county is looking into possibly amending the state grant to use the more than $46,000 in remaining grant money.
Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. said the bidding processes for the dump project was a bit different than usual. The fiscal court held a pre-bid meeting last week where all the contractors interested in performing the clean-ups met with county officials to see each dump site and exactly what type of work was required.
“Everybody has seen these (sites) and knows what is expected of them,” White said during the meeting. “It was never done like that in the past. It was your responsibility to go look at it and then you bid.
“This was done so that my staff, which took several extra days, could facilitate an understanding so that we could go forward with this — because this is the single biggest dump project Whitley County has ever done.”
White added that his office worked hard to advertise for the bids as soon as they knew the grant money was available to give local companies much needed business during the current economic downturn. Most of the winning bidders were from the Tri-County with the exception of MCM contracting based in Lexington.
Sheriff Lawrence Hodge was at Tuesday’s meeting and asked the court if it was possible to give the bids to local companies. Judge White said federal law required the county award contracts to the lowest bidder.
After the meeting White said he expected the bids to be competitive — which is an advantage to the county in two ways.
“We can win two-fold here,” White said. “We can get more dumps cleaned for the same money, and we can also put some monies back into the labor portion of Whitley County’s economy using mostly state funds.”
Under the terms of the contracts, all 16 dumps are required to be cleaned up by June 1. West added that contractors are required to replace any soil that they disturb during the clean-ups. The contractors will only be paid by the county after the job has been completed to the contract terms, White said.
The court also received a year-to-date report on the sheriff’s department budget.
High gas prices led to a more than $20,600 deficit in the sheriff’s department budget, Hodge said.
“I’ve never come in over budget since being in office,” Hodge told the court. “The day we hit even on the gas budget, I came over and made the court aware of it.”
County Treasurer Jeff Gray said the sheriff’s department has been open and helpful when working with him, and noted that the fuel budget deficit was around $23,000, but surpluses on other budget line-items helped alleviate some of the total deficit.
“It was just one of those things you can’t count on,” Hodge said of this summer and spring’s high gas prices. “I hope it never goes back, if it doesn’t I don’t know what you do about it. You got to keep going.”
Hodge said a big part of the department’s work is on the road — pointing out that as the court’s meeting was taking place one deputy was in Bowling Green, one in Breathitt County, and three working Whitley County roads. Hodge also explained that under state law his department can’t have a surplus or deficit, so the fiscal court will supply the additional $20,000.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the fiscal court also donated $15,000 to the Williamsburg Senior Citizen’s Center, which suffered budget cuts when it lost state-funding.
Director Virginia Hayes said to keep the center open, it needs $23,000 in funding, but the $15,000 from the fiscal court should keep the doors open longer.
Hayes said the center is always looking for volunteer drivers who can pass background tests to deliver food and provide other services to the more than 180 seniors citizens served by the center’s different programs.
In other fiscal court business the court:
• Approved a retroactive memorandum of agreement between the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Department of Corrections and the county for jail inmate labor.
• Set the salary for the Whitley County judge-executive and jailer. Judge White, who abstained from the vote because it affected his pay, said the salaries are set by the state and are based on population.
• Accepted and approved the County Clerk’s budget of $6,105,369.49. White said after the meeting that much of that budget money comes from the state. The fiscal court also accepted $15,000 from the county clerk’s office as partial payment of excess fees from the office.
• Heard Animal Control Officer Wayne Wilson’s monthly report. In January, Wilson said he picked up 47 dogs, 13 cats, a goat and one skunk. Judge White also pointed out that Wilson bought hay out of his own pocket for some starving horses, whose owners were eventually located.
• Heard from Floyd Shelton Jr., owner of Shelton’s wrecker service.
Shelton claims that Constable Jim Thorton is using his emergency lights to get to accident scenes quickly and then calls his brother’s towing services to pick up wrecked vehicles. Judge White said he had not investigated the allegations, but rather pointed Shelton to an eight county ethics committee that the state’s attorney general office said could investigate allegations leveled against elected officials such as Thorton.
Sean Bailey can be reached at email@example.com
16 of county’s worst dumps to be cleaned up by June 1
By Sean Bailey / Staff Writer
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