TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
The first 2014 meeting of the Barbourville City Council included the reading of the State of the City Address.
Mayor David Thompson said the address is the required annual report on both the progress and the needs of the city.
Thompson listed the completed projects first.
— The Barbourville Health and Rehabilitation Center opened Dec. 2 and all patients were moved into their rooms by 8 a.m.
— The Splash Pad at Thompson RV Park was completed — it opened on Aug. 28. Federal grant monies totaling $19,200 were used to construct the new water feature.
— The announcement was made in May concerning the addition of Xerox Corporation to the Barbourville business community. The company moved into the former Infiniti Corporation building on what was formerly known as Infiniti Road. Xerox employs 60 people.
— One stipulation made by the Xerox Corporation concerned repaving (and ultimately renaming) of Infiniti Road. After contacting District 5 Senator Robert Stivers’ office, approval was given for the state’s Department of Transportation to repave that road, which is now known as Partnership Drive. The repaving project required no city monies.
— The Barbourville Utility Commission secured funds to complete an infrastructure project on Artemus Road. Approximately $483,000 was spent last year for the water line and sewer upgrade project, which has a $5.396 million price tag.
— As of Thursday, the city and the utility commission has retained deposits on three parcels of land at the city industrial park for the possibility of future development as well as future job development.
Thompson continued reading the State of the City address, and discussed future needs for the city. He explained that during a recent visit to the city, a representative with the state’s labor department saw that Barbourville City Hall does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as currently, there are no handicapped-accessible restrooms available for public use.
Thompson said in his address that the city plans to remodel the women’s restroom on the first floor of city hall to a unisex handicapped restroom to comply with those ADA requirements.
But remodeling takes money — and Thompson further said in the address that because of budget constraints, a decrease in city revenues and other unexpected expenses, that no plans are in the works for future projects.
He added that the city has 10 events scheduled during 2014 — the Easter Egg Hunt, the Red Bud Festival, the Fourth of July celebration, the Civil War reenactment, the Snowman Hunt, the Kansas City Barbecue Cookoff competition, the Daniel Boone Festival, Halloween’s Fright Night, the Christmas parade and the New Year’s Eve celebration.
Neither the public nor any council members commented on the address — and the meeting moved onto the next topic — the ADA review.
“We need to remedy this situation, but it’s not budgeted in the current budget,” Thompson said Thursday. “(And the work) may include the front doors as well.”
Council member Darren West asked whether the city had funds to cover the unexpected project — to which City Clerk Helen Strong replied “we don’t have it in the budget.”
Council member Wilma Barnes felt the city must do the work, saying “if it needs to be done” then the city should do it.
“We need money,” West said.
Thompson explained the ADA review began after a complaint was lodged concerning handicapped access to the Knox County Historical Museum — which is on the second floor of city hall.
The first discussions about coming into ADA compliance centered around possibly installing an elevator in city hall — with an approximate cost of $14,000.
However, the plan now involves much less cost — revamping the women’s restrooms to be unisex handicapped restroom facilities, and moving the front doors to accommodate for wheelchair access.
“They’ll be back (this month) in January to check on our progress,” Thompson told council members. “And we’ve already made some progress.”
He said the areas of the women’s restroom which could be removed, were removed. Thompson estimated the project cost for the city would be approximately $5,000.
And council members want to be compliant.
“We do (want to do this),” West said. “But we’ve got to have money around somewhere.”
Council member Janet Hyde suggested the city’s finance committee meet to seek the funds for the project. That committee includes Hyde, Barnes and Council member Sherman Lawson.
That’s the route the city council members decided to take — and a finance committee meeting will be scheduled for some time this coming week.
No official votes were taken concerning this discussion.
In other city council business:
— Thompson told council members the city’s Recreation Board met earlier in the week — and the group had one main concern — management of the city’s public parks.
Park management became an issue in 2013 when council members decided to change the way the city’s parks are managed, particularly during summer months.
That’s when the decision was made to hire a manager for the parks and pay that person as a city-hired employee.
During Thursday’s meeting, Thompson said an advertisement seeking the 2014 park manager “will be in the paper next week.”
He explained the Recreation Board’s concern was the value of their input during the manager hiring process.
“I think it’s good to have their input in,” West said. “Let them try to weed it out.”
While a vote was not necessary, council members agreed to allow the city’s Recreation Board review the applications and determine the best candidate to hire.
— Council members unanimously agreed to allow the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. parade to travel down Knox Street toward the courthouse on Jan. 20. Officers with the Barbourville Police Department and employees with the street department will handle the temporary road closures during this event. Chief Mike Broughton told council members the parade would last less than 30 minutes and as it moved along Knox Street, the blockades would be removed.
“We’ll take care of it,” Broughton said. “It won’t be an issue.”
West motioned to approve the road closure, with a second from Council member Gary Williams. The council was unanimous with this decision.
— During Thursday’s meeting, Denise Wainscott, tourism director, announced the city would appear on a three-minute segment of KET’s Kentucky Life program Jan. 25.
“They filmed for a whole day in Barbourville,” Wainscott said, adding that she has yet to see the segment and has no idea of the subject material set to be discussed.
No decision was required by council concerning this announcement.
Editor’s note: Please refer to the Friday, Jan. 10 edition of The Times-Tribune for the story concerning a discussion of the city’s audit during Thursday’s regular monthly meeting.