, Corbin, KY

September 10, 2013

Shelter debated during City Commission meeting


CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Things got a little heated toward the end of the Corbin City Commission’s regular monthly meeting Monday.

But the back-and-forth debate that began to escalate was put to an end by City Attorney Bob Hammons with the hope the two opposing parties can meet together to come to some type of agreement.

During several recent commission meetings, Mark Eaton, a representative of the South Main Street-20th Street neighborhood, has addressed the city commission concerning the Everlasting Arm Outreach Shelter, which is located on South Main Street.

He expressed concerns that the people coming into the shelter did not appear to be getting the help needed.

“My issue with the (shelter residents) is that if they’re released from jail, then I don’t want them,” Eaton said during the August meeting. “If they’re not going to do a background check and they’re not concerned, then we don’t want them there.

“We feel that’s justified.”

During the August meeting, Eaton invited anyone from the shelter to attend a commission meeting to discuss the situation.

That invitation was taken up Monday by two representatives of the shelter — Richard Lunsford and on-site supervisor Charlie Witt.

It was explained the Christian-based shelter was inspected by the city’s fire marshal, and the building is now “all up to code.”

“We’re here to help the needy,” Lunsford said, adding that approximately 477 people have received assistance through the shelter during the last year and a half.

The group also works with several churches in the area.

The shelter is a 16-bed facility that is under non-profit status, according to Lunsford, and that all the monies come from car washes, fundraising drives and personal donations — no government dollars go to support the shelter.

“We do as much as we can for the community,” he said.

However, it was pointed out that the Corbin Police Department had been called to the shelter more than 40 times in recent weeks.

“We’ve got a neighborhood here we’re concerned about,” Mayor Willard McBurney said.

Commissioner Suzie Razmus asked whether shelter leaders have listened to the concerns of their neighbors.

“You’ve got to be good neighbors,” she said, adding she was “sympathetic” with the shelter’s mission.

It was then brought up about shelter representatives meeting with the neighborhood group.

Eaton again requested police patrol continue in their neighborhood.

“(Shelter residents) are still loitering at the 20th Street Baptist Church — it’s been happening since the last meeting,” Eaton said. “The neighborhood is is concerned about who (the shelter) is bringing in.”

Witt felt the characterization of the home’s residents was unfair, and voices continued to climb with both parties involved stating their perception of the situation at hand.

That’s when Hammons stepped in.

“Hey, whoa, this is a public meeting — it’s not a forum for this side to debate that side,” he said, adding he could see both parties’ concerns. “Surely (there can be) some reasonable mediation of these issues — but this is not the forum.”

If an agreement cannot be reached in a mediation, Hammons mentioned one avenue the neighborhood can take.

“The neighborhood can hire an attorney and file suit (claiming) you as a nuisance,” he said.

No decisions were required on this matter.