2018-07-18 / Front Page

Fiscal court hears BBQ restaurant is looking to lease old Ermine center

By WILLIAM FARLEY

The Letcher County Fiscal Court was asked about leasing the old Ermine Senior Citizens Center for commercial use at its July meeting this week. The court also heard a complaint from a former county employee who came to the meeting to vent his frustration about the county using his yard to park county equipment.

Emil Hall of Whitesburg asked about the possibility of leasing the Ermine Senior Citizens Center for use as a barbecue restaurant. Hall said he was inquiring about the old elementary school building on behalf of a restaurant with locations already established in Prestonsburg, Pikeville and Hindman. Judge/ Executive Jim Ward told Hall there have been some other inquiries about the property but nothing had come to fruition.

Several years ago, Tractor Supply considered putting one of its installations at the site of the old Food World grocery building in the Walmart shopping center. At that time, the firm’s representatives expressed an interest in buying the land where the center is located for outdoor storage, but negotiations on locating the store fell through and there were no further discussions about a Tractor Supply in Whitesburg.

District Four Magistrate Keith Adams said he believes if the county is not going to use the land it should do something with it. County Attorney Jamie Hatton said there might be some Health Department issues if a restaurant located there and later in the meeting, Adams suggested the court declare the property surplus and sell it. Ward said he would ask Hatton to look into it, but that other people are also interested in it. Hatton said he isn’t sure that leasing it is an option.

Danny Fields of Kingscreek told the court that last week, a county owned grader and backhoe were parked in his yard without his permission and later two service trucks came in and parked as well. Fields said that workers from one of the service trucks removed a tire from the grader and may have damaged his septic tank by driving across it. He said that at no time while the vehicles were on his property did anyone ask if it could be parked there or the equipment left there.

Ward told Fields that he learned about the matter late last week and that a report has been filed. He said the county will pay to fix any damage to Fields’s yard and suggested that he have the septic tank uncovered and inspected for damage. Ward said the county would pay for that as well as any damage to the tank. He said he hadn’t been aware of the incident when it happened, but that once before Fields had allowed county equipment to be parked in his yard and it is possible the drivers thought it was all right to park there. Ward apologized for the incident but said that other than repairing the damage and paying for any expenses caused by it, there wasn’t much he could do.

“That’s not right,” said Fields. “I don’t want them back in my yard.”

“Nobody disagrees with you,” said Ward. “We will fix any damage.”

District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming agreed that the county is responsible for any damage to Fields’s property and District Two Magistrate Terry Adams, who operates a plumbing and heating business, said Fields should definitely have the septic tank inspected. Fields said when he spoke to personnel at the county garage he was told that the men who left the equipment “don’t care what they do.”

In other business, the court voted to re-authorize the Letcher County Code of Ethics. Ward said the code is unchanged from previous years and it was approved unanimously. The court also voted to dedicate Crases Branch Road to honor the nine sons of Frank Blair for their military service. The members voted to name the road for Bailus, Bruce, Frankie, Don, Elvin, Bob, Pete, Curt, and George Blair. The exact dates or branches of service are uncertain, but Mike Blair of Crases Branch said the brothers all served in either World War II, the Korean War, or Vietnam.

John Wyatt, a community service volunteer for the Christian Appalachian Project, told the court that repairs and clean-up efforts undertaken by CAP volunteers in Bill Moore Branch have been completed. The clean-up is the result of recent flash flooding in the area and Wyatt said that the local nature of the CAP volunteers had allowed them to respond much faster than a larger organization.

Wyatt also said that while some smaller disasters don’t qualify for assistance under Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines, they are still disasters to the people who are affected by them. He suggested that in future aid efforts, the best thing people who wish to help can do to for flooding victims is donate cleaning supplies.

Wyatt also told the court he is trained in law enforcement and offered his services to patrol the Fishpond Lake area. He said he enjoys going to the lake but that without a regular patrol it is subject to dumping, litter, and vandalism. Wyatt said he would work at no charge if the county could furnish a vehicle.

Magistrate Fleming asked if Ward had any idea when the county would be able to start putting asphalt on county roads, but Ward said that the asphalt plants usually service the larger state orders before filling county and city demands. He said that due to the practice the county had some funds left over from last year when it was were cut off before it ran out of money. Ward said last year’s leftover funds will be applied to work done this year. Fleming asked that work on county roads commence at the place where it ended last year.

Fleming also said that he had been asked about weed cutting and Ward replied that the county only has two tractor/mowers in service to cut weeds at this time. He said the operators are working hard and that he hopes to take care of every location that has a need.

County Treasurer Doris Jean Frazier delivered the annual financial settlement for the year ending June 30. The settlement consists of a report on the cash balances in each county fund at the end of the fiscal year. The General Fund has $698,673.47; the Road and Bridge Fund has $575,255.13; the Jail Fund has $115,842.68; Local Government Economic Assistance has $842,643.08; the Senior Citizens Fund has $227.56, the Forestry Fund has $20,111.99, and the Craft’s Colly sewer project has $13,198.82.

Frazier explained that the funds in the Craft’s Colley sewer project are pass through money to the City of Whitesburg, which managed the project. She added that when the city wants to draw the funds down they will be available.

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