In a routine, 37 minute meeting Thursday night, the McCreary County Fiscal Court dealt mainly with personnel issues, but also tackled some issues dealing with County departments.
After taking care of approving the minutes from the previous meeting, financial statements and transfers, the Magistrates accepted a $13,890 payment from County Clerk Eric Haynes, who is required to turn over excess fees collected through his office.
The Court approved the hiring of Cody Vanover to the Community Service Coordinator position, previously held by Chris Slaven who reportedly resigned from the post.
Joslyn Prewitt was approved to be hired as a part time as needed dispatcher at 911, and Charles Waters was approved to be hired as a part time as needed EMT.
During the Department Head update, Magistrate Roger Phillips questioned Occupational Tax Administrator Stephanie Tucker concerning the status on starting legal proceedings against delinquent Occupational Tax accounts.
Tucker stated she had not spoken to County Attorney Conley Chaney about the progress.
Phillips encouraged her to have an update on the outstanding accounts at the next meeting.
EMS/911 Director Jimmy Barnett asked the Court for permission to go ahead with adding an additional ambulance to the fleet to handle non-emergency transports.
Barnett first brought up the possibility of taking on more transfers several months ago, explaining it would generate additional revenue for the County.
Doing so would enable the department to use part-time as needed staff to transfer patients to and from hospitals and nursing homes in other counties.
The service would not impact normal emergency runs for the department, and would also provide an additional ambulance for the fleet in times of unusual heavy activity.
The Court approved seeking a loan through KaCo to finance the purchase, which would be repaid out of the Ambulance Replacement Fund.
The loan would go toward refurbishing an existing ambulance box with a new 4-wheel drive chassis that would aid the department in times of inclement weather.
The latest ambulance added to the fleet, just last month, would be used for the non-emergency transfers, since it is the smallest unit in the fleet.
Barnett stated the worst-case scenario would be the County would add another refurbished ambulance to the fleet a year ahead of schedule.
Magistrate Phillips asked McCreary County Emergency Management Director Rudy Young to work with Barnett to establish a plan for establishing the County Park as a designated emergency shelter during inclement weather.
Young stated a plan was already in place, and noted that there was some misunderstanding over how it was implemented during the last winter storm.
An announcement was made over Facebook that the shelter was open, and only one family contacted 911 for assistance that weekend.
Young stated he would look in to the option to purchase a generator to keep at the park to use as an emergency power source during a severe outage.
During the Citizen Participation section of the meeting, Judge Executive Doug Stephens was asked about an incident earlier in the week where several County departments had long-distance phone service interrupted.
Judge Stephens stated the issue was not from lack of payment, rather an issue with the County’s phone service provider.
He explained that several years ago the County had long-distance phone service through a different carrier. The County ended the agreement and switched to Highland service, but apparently, some of the lines did not get switched over during the transition.
Last Friday the issue was discovered in the Judge’s Office and Highland was contacted to correct the issue. But, by Monday some problems persisted and service was interrupted as Highland tried to remedy the situation.
Some lines were not restored until later in the week.
Judge Stephens went on to say the County was “stable” financially, and paying utility bills were a priority in his office to avoid service interruptions of any sort.
He did admit that there were times when paying the bills are a struggle due to decreased revenue and increased costs, but the County is managing to make payments.
“We are keeping our heads above water, barely,” he said.
Judge Stephens was also asked if there had been any news on the proposed METT plant or coal mining operations for the County.
He stated he had not heard any updates recently on either project, but noted proposals are before the Tennessee Valley Authority and East Kentucky Power that concern both projects.
Judge Stephens did note that he was scheduled to show the spec building in Pine Knot to a company interested in operating a business in the region.
Tuesday morning Stephens confirmed that the showing did take place Monday, with representatives from SKED and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development attending as well, but was not able to offer more information at this time.
During the Other Business portion of the meeting, Magistrate O.L. Perry asked about the status of the old 911 building.
Judge Stephens stated no one had offered a bid to tear down the building after it was advertised last month, and asked for opinions on how to proceed.
Magistrate Perry motioned for the bid to be offered up for an additional month, and after that time if no one offers to remove the building the County would look at other options.
The next regular scheduled meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on Thursday, March 10 at 6:00 p.m.