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Hart County Fiscal Court, March 21 meeting, several big purchases

The Hart County Fiscal Court approved several purchases during its March 21 meeting. The first one being new cars for the sheriff’s office.

The fiscal court voted to advertise for bids for the purchase of four 2019 Dodge Chargers with police packages.

The fiscal court voted to approve all road material bids and the purchase of 21 voting machines and accessories in the amount of $195,171.50 from Harp Enterprises, according to the meeting minutes.

The fiscal court also approved the application of funding for various road and bridge projects, starting with allowing Judge-Executive Joe Choate to apply for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s 80/20 bridge program and then KYTC’s Flex and Discretionary Fund programs.

Choate was given permission by the fiscal court to sign contracts/agreements with the Appalachian Regional Commission Grant for the extension of a waterline along Quarry Road and for anti-displacement and relocation assistance for the grant. The fiscal court also approved the cost of the Quarry Road water line extension project, said the meeting minutes.

The fiscal court adopted a resolution to apply for a Recreational Trail Program Grant for the Hart County Historical Society and to advertise for a public meeting at the historical society for the grant at 7 p.m. on April 19, the meeting minutes said.

In addition, the fiscal court agreed to allow Choate to apply and sign a grant agreement for recycling and household hazardous waste for the Hart County Industrial Authority, the meeting minutes said.

The fiscal court met in closed session to discuss personnel and the possible acquisition of property.

After resuming its open session, the fiscal court voted to hire Jacob Twyman as janitorial/maintenance/transport employee at a rate of $10.50 per hour and to approve the position’s job description.

The fiscal court also voted to enter into a contract for the acquisition of real property, the meeting minutes said.

In other business, Harold Cottrell with the Hart County Bicentennial Committee requested the assistance of the magistrates at the Old Time Court Day on June 15; the fiscal court approved a payment to IMI for work done on Cedar Lane Road; approved the jail’s 2019-20 budget; approved an easement agreement with the Hardin County Water District No. 2 at 3050 Pleasant Hill Road; approved the treasurer and occupational tax administrator reporters; and adopted a resolution authorizing the removal and relocation of all abandoned graves in the Dale-Barbour Cemetery.

Smiths Grove hires police officer

The Smiths Grove City Commission met in special-called session on March 5 during which Mayor David Stiffey introduced Robert Wesley “Wes” Jenkins, the candidate selected to fill the part-time position of assistant police chief.

The purpose of the special-called meeting was for city commissioners to ask Jenkins any questions they may have and to vote on his acceptance as a part-time police officer, the meeting minutes said.

Jenkins provide a summary of his experience and answered commissioners’ questions.

Stiffey stated Police Chief Johnny Vance has not set a retirement date and that the city has clarified that this part-time position is moving forward to a full-time position based on the knowledge of Vance’s retirement, the meeting minutes said.

The pay rate of $15 per hour has been discussed and the part-time status is dependent on Vance’s departure date and city funding.

Stiffey made a motion to accept Jenkins’ hiring as part-time assistant police chief, the meeting minutes said.

Stiffey administered the oath of office to Jenkins, who started his new duties on March 11, the minutes said.

Smiths Grove to get new streetlights

Mike Bell with Warren Rural Electric Company addressed the Smiths Grove City Commission at its Feb. 25 meeting about the installation of LED streetlights.

Commissioner Maurice “Buddy” Marr explained he had inquired about the cost savings of changing current streetlights to LED street lights and that Bell would explain the process, costs and his proposal for Smiths Grove, the meeting minutes said.

Bell gave city commissioners a two-page handout with description information on the current streetlights, which are either High Pressure Sodium or Mercury Vapor streetlights with various wattages, and the two types of LED replacement lights, plus a map showing Smiths Grove’s current light placements.

Bell explained there were 75 smaller streetlights to replace and 54 larger lights for a total of 129 fixtures to replace.

He provided the city commission with two proposals.

The first proposal called for replacing 27 lights on Main Street from Vincent to Sixth streets with LED fixtures that would result in a slight reduction in the overall bill as the energy savings offset the cost of the fixtures, the meeting minutes said.

The second proposal called for replacing all of the city’s light fixtures with large LED fixtures on Main Street and smaller LED fixtures on other streets. By doing this, the overall increase in the cost of streetlights for Smiths Grove would be about $18 per month, the meeting minutes said.

The project time would take a couple of months with one man replacing all of the fixtures with LED fixtures. Neither proposal included the The Meadows subdivision, the meeting minutes said.

After listening to Bell and discussing the issue and asking Bell questions, Mayor David Stiffey made a motion to replace every streetlight in Smiths Grove with LED fixtures, beginning with Main Street. The motion was approved. The work was set to begin April 1, the meeting minutes said.

In giving his report to the city commission, the mayor pointed out that January and February had positive cash balances as insurance premium and final property tax revenue had been received.

Stiffey also told the city commission that the Speedway project will start in the summer and that he and Marr had met with the owners of the land development behind McDonald’s to listen to their potential ideas.

The land developers have not made a final decision but are looking to use the land for either a restaurant, hotel or some other type of commercial business, the meeting minutes said.

Marr told the city commission that he had expressed concern about the potential traffic issue due to the only access to the land being the road that runs between McDonald’s and Crossroads IGA.

City Attorney Hamp Moore said he had not heard about the development at the City-County Planning Commission meeting, but that he and Planning Commissioner Albert Rich would keep the traffic issue in mind when the project is introduced to the planning commission, the meeting minutes said.

Marr gave the public works report and said that there were several concrete street markers that needed to be removed and that the city needs to contact Scotty’s Contracting and Stone about the resurfacing of Laurel Avenue. He also reported that some repair may be needed where the railroad and College Street intersect and there may need to be some widening of the street apron at that point.

Stiffey reminded commissioners that the city will want the paving company to finish resurfacing Vincent Street after the Speedway project is complete, the meeting minutes said.

Police Chief Johnny Vance reported the Kentucky League of Cities was going to conduct an audit of the police department and its vehicles on Feb. 28 as part of their insurance coverage audit.

He explained the audit is done once every four years and impacts the cost of insurance for the police department’s insurance policy. He also said his only other pending issue was the hiring of a replacement officer due to his desire to retire at the end of the year or the first part of 2020, the meeting minutes said.

Vance plans to meet with the Kentucky State Retirement Board in October. He told the city commission he would like to hire a full-time police officer who would be a good candidate to replace him upon his retirement and that he hoped to have the position filled by April 1, the meeting minutes said.

The extra cost in hiring an additional police officer would be covered by the remaining budget funds due to Police Officer Jeff Wright leaving the department in September 2018.

Vance also told the city commission that Police Officer Greg Claywell wants to leave his position with the police department at the same time as Vance, and that is why Vance said it is important to fill the position with someone who would be the best candidate, the meeting minutes said.

Vance asked to form a committee to conduct interviews for the positions.

Stiffey told the city commission that a formal retirement letter with an exit date was needed in order to determine the hiring timeframe. The city commission then discussed how the timeframe for hiring is determined, certification verification with the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice and Training and whether the city’s budget was sufficient for two full-time officers within that estimated timeframe, the meeting minutes said.

Commissioner Bob Buehl said he would like to meet with Vance and Stiffey to discuss what a reasonable timeframe would be, and Marr said the following things need to be determined: When does the city commission want to bring in a new hire? How long will it take for the new hire to be acclimated and up to speed? What the cost per month would be for the city and how many months can the city afford?

In other business, Commissioner Steve Roney reported he had met with Brian Gaul about cemetery maintenance and shared the recommendations Gaul had given to him with the city commission; Commissioner James “Mickey” Jones reported the was a cleanup in progress on the 218 Sunset Avenue property after the tenant was warned by Vance and asked that Vance follow-up with property owners at Highland/Laurel streets regarding an abundance of trash bags on the porch; the city commission voted 4-1 to close an alleyway between Gary Vincent and his neighbor’s property at Vincent’s request and cost responsibility (This motion is meant to pursue the process and not meant to be a final vote of whether to approve the closure per the results of the City-County Planning Commission’s recommendation.)

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