By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
A sudden executive session was called Tuesday during the Whitley County Fiscal Court regular monthly meeting — and based on a few key sentences said just prior to the session, it’s likely concerning a lawsuit which either has been or will be filed against the county.
Seconds before the meeting appeared to be adjourning, Magistrate Jamie Fuson mentioned something about a letter requested at a meeting, a name was brought up, and then he said “..the window was open not to do a hearing.”
It was unclear to what Fuson was referring.
That’s when County Attorney Bob Hammons cut in and suggested magistrates close the open meeting and hold a closed executive session “to discuss pending litigation.”
After an hour-long executive session, magistrates returned and reconvened the regular meeting. Hammons said that no formal action was taken during the executive session.
The agenda itself did not list a scheduled executive session.
In other fiscal court business:
— Four roads were up to be either extended or added to the county’s road system — only three got to pass the starting gate Tuesday.
Donahue Road was the last one listed on the agenda for adoption into the road system and the one which prompted the least amount of discussion. Magistrate Robbie Brown motioned to approve the petition, with a second from Magistrate Roger Wells. Magistrates were unanimous with this decision.
Extending Young’s Chapel Road approximately a half-mile also received little discussion Tuesday. Brown motioned to accept the petition to extend that road, with a second from Magistrate David Myers. Magistrates were unanimous with this decision.
The adoption of Gene Carter Lane near Rockholds into the county system was discussed — according to Judge/Executive Pat White Jr., problems caused by another road are occurring on Gene Carter Lane.
White said the road has drainage issues which need to be addressed, but can’t be until road crews can access the road.
Wells motioned to approve that petition for adoption, with a second from Fuson. Magistrates were unanimous with this decision.
However, the first road petition discussed Tuesday was tabled — on a 4 to 1 vote of magistrates.
White told magistrates the road is approximately 336 feet long near Louden and Upper Mulberry roads.
Accepting the petition for the road “will allow to correct a mountain slide,” White said.
However, it was learned the slide area was just repaired three weeks ago — and the road is impassable again.
Fuson motioned to table the issue.
“This is a relatively urgent issue,” White said, adding the land in that area is “constantly sliding.”
Fuson expressed his concern about the expense of repairing that spot.
White said the county, as it stands, is limited to what it can do in the way of repair work.
Myers asked whether the county could still work on the area if it’s causing problems.
“We have (done that),” Fuson said.
White advised that accepting that petition for the road would “really correct” the road erosion situation and added that coal trucks regularly use that stretch of road.
“It’s a hazardous situation,” he said.
Brown asked if any preliminary estimates had been given.
“It doesn’t look like much (work),” Director of Infrastructure Jimmy Bates said. “But it’s the legality of the issue.”
Magistrates have a month to decide whether to make these petitions official.
“I’d rather table this (than put) a costly burden on taxpayers,” Fuson said.
Fuson’s original motion to table was seconded by Wells.
Brown said before the final vote he’d like to see magistrates have “a good financial idea of what it’s going to cost us.”
White cast the only nay vote in this decision.
— People holding bills payable to Whitley County EMS may ought to get them paid — soon.
During Tuesday night’s regular monthly meeting, White said “about a year ago (we began) working on past due ambulance bills.”
At that time the county hired a local company to perform the collection work, he said.
“They have quit,” he said. “And they’ve left substantial amounts unpaid.”
“Substantial” is right — White said nearly $ 1 million in past due amounts remains owed to the ambulance.
White said 911 billing and GLA Corporation are in an agreement with Whitley County EMS — magistrates just had to approve that agreement.
Fuson motioned to approve, with a second from Brown. Magistrates were unanimous with this decision.
— A new code for the county’s prepaid claims list got approved — and it covers the before unknown utilities expense from the building housing the Disabled American Veterans’ group as well as Whitley County offices, such as emergency management.
White said the utilities on the property — their share anyway — was part of the lease agreement for the property.
Myers asked for county treasurer Jeffrey Gray to monitor the utilities on that facility so “they don’t get out of hand.”
Myers then motioned to approve the addition, with a second from Fuson. Magistrates were unanimous with this decision.