, Corbin, KY

October 4, 2013

Street signs vanishing in Barbourville


CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

“Where the streets have no name…”

Right now, that line from the popular U2 song could easily describe the city of Barbourville.

During the regular monthly meeting of the Barbourville City Council, Police Chief Mike Broughton explained that several street signs throughout the city have vanished.

“These road signs have been stolen,” Broughton said. “And that becomes a safety issue.”

He explained that EMS crews attempting to get to an emergency could face issues if the signs are gone.

Mayor David Thompson added that seven signs along the Main Street area have been stolen.

“One of those is at the nursing home,” he added.

Broughton said if the problem persists the police department may install “covert cameras” on the signs to catch the thief or thieves.

“We want to catch these folks (and) take the appropriate action,” he said.

But street signs aren’t the only pieces of city property getting swiped by thieves.

Stop stealing the pole grounds — that’s the message Josh Calhoun with the Barbourville Utility Commission wants to get out to would-be thieves in the city.

During Thursday’s council meeting, Calhoun said that at Thompson’s RV Park, several of the “pole grounds” have been stolen from the power poles.

According to, “there is a bare wire running down the pole. This is a grounding wire. Every utility pole on the planet has one,” states the website. “If you ever watch the power company install a new pole, you will see that the end of that bare wire is stapled in a coil to the base of the pole and therefore is in direct contact with the earth, running 6 to 10 feet … underground. It is a good, solid ground connection. If you examine a pole carefully, you will see that the ground wire running between poles (and often the guy wires) are attached to this direct connection to ground.”

Often those pole grounds are copper.

“It is dangerous to steal (these pole grounds),” Calhoun said. “There is high voltage on these poles.”

Not only does it pose a danger to the thief, but it also could cause serious problems.

“Those pole grounds protect the system and keep the equipment from getting damaged,” he said, adding that it also protects equipment and other electrical devices in businesses and homes.

“This is not harmless — it’s very dangerous,” he said.

However, Calhoun said the pole grounds that they are replacing the stolen ones with are much different — and much less tempting.

These new grounds are steel wire based.

Calhoun urged that anyone who sees someone other than a uniformed utility worker acting suspiciously at any power pole to contact authorities immediately.

One other problem was presented to the council members Thursday.

Code Enforcement Officer Corey Moren explained there have been several complaints made about various dumpsters in residential areas.

Moren suggested the dumpsters were too close to the road — and the mess gathered from these has caused resident concern.

And apparently, according to Moren, the property owners where the dumpsters are located are not cooperating with the city in moving them. “We’ve tried to get them moved,” he said.

He suggested to council members they “entertain” an ordinance requiring residential dumpsters to be so far off the road and enclosed, as commercial businesses do.

He added that other cities in Kentucky already have those ordinances in place — and then offered to write a draft ordinance for council members to review and discuss.

“Do it,” said Council member Ronnie Moore.

No vote was required by council members on any of these matters. Council members Darren West and Gerald Hyde were absent.