Wednesday, April 30, 2014

State to spend $652K on “rural secondary” roads in WC

J-E News Editor
Webster County Fiscal Court met in a three hour session on Monday, covering a varied agenda that included everything from road work to further discussion on a tree the county downed on Hester-Winstead Road near Slaughters.

The first item on the agenda was a proposal on Rural Secondary Program (RSP) funds. RSP is funded by 22.2% of the motor fuels tax revenue in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. These funds are used for the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of secondary and rural roads in each county. Allocation of RSP funds is determined using the Fifths Formula. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is responsible for expending all Rural Secondary Program funds. 
Cassie Wade and Jason Ware made this year’s proposal from the KYTC for the allocation of those funds in Webster County which included three separate projects.
The most expensive of these projects was repaving a section of Highway 138 between Old Catesville Road and Highway 1835, This project was estimated to cost around $470,178.
The other two proposals both came out of the Flex Fund account, totalling $168,016. This would include rebuilding the “Y” intersection of Highway 138 and Highway 132 as a “T” intersection, and redoing portions of Highway 630 to ease dangerous shoulders and drop-offs.
“On 630, we’re not sure how much we can get done,” Ware told the court. “We won’t be doing the entire length of the road, just where work is needed.”
The work would start at the intersection of Highway 630 and Highway 132 and continue as far as the funds allow the work to go.
“Over time, as you pave and repave, your road gets taller,” Ware explained to the court. “Your shoulders get steeper. Maybe we can save a life or two over the next ten years by doing this.”
The court approved this proposal with a 3-0 vote.
Ware also reported that in addition to the RSP work this summer, the KYTC also has plans to repave four or five miles of US 41A south of Dixon, Clayton Avenue in Dixon and all of Highway 120 from US 41A to the second railroad crossing on the Green Grove side of Providence.
It was also mentioned that in May the state would begin taking bids for the reconstruction of the on-off ramps at the Sebree exit of the Pennyrile Parkway. That particular project is expected to take up to two years to complete due to the fact that crews will have to cut and blast through a rock hillside.
Jimmy Gentry, the lawyer for Roger Winstead and the Winstead family appeared before the court on Monday to express his client’s opinion on the way the court handled the decision to cut a tree on his property near Slaughters.
“Unfortunately the Winsteads could not be here to address you in person, but they asked me to come and address this issue,” said Gentry. “They are frustrated and disappointed by the whole process of how this has proceeded and resolved itself.”
After debating the fate of the tree for over a year, magistrates decided at the last fiscal court meeting that the time had come to cut the tree down.
“There’s a mixture of legal and factual questions that I don’t think the court ever really answered or addressed prior to it’s April 14 vote,” said Gentry. He also pointed out that in prior meetings he had requested notice before the court took any action.
While not directly accusing the court of any impropriety, he told magistrates that their actions created the perception of impropriety.
“This court actually doesn’t have any policies or procedures on how it establishes the county’s right-of-way on these old county roads,” Gentry said. He then urged the court to create a procedure to govern how the county should proceed in such cases. He also urged the county to make it a policy to give all property owners notice before altering their property.
“You understand, if we had to go out and contact every property owner, we’d be contacting people instead of fixing roads,” said Magistrate Jerry “Poogie” Brown.
Following Gentry’s statement, the court moved on with other business. Among that was a discussion of lump sum salaries for the elected county officials staffs, which must be voted in by the first Monday in May.
County Clerk Valerie Newell urged the court to consider granting her office and that of Sheriff Frankie Springfield a larger amount of money than what they were originally considering. According to Newell, although the court was considering a three percent across the board raise, that would do little to allow her to keep her employees salaries in line with the rest of the county employees.
Magistrates decided to give the topic further consideration, but the issue must be voted on at a special called meeting to be held next Monday morning.