Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Clay Council discusses law enforcement, fire department

J-E News Editor
Clay City Council invited Sheriff Frankie Springfield to it’s most recent meeting to discuss the future of law enforcement in their area. Lonnie Rogers, one of the town’s two police officers, recently announced that he was leaving to take a position with the Christian County School system, leaving the police department short handed.
Roger’s departed the Clay Police Department two weeks ago.
“At this time we have no plans to replace Lonnie,” said Mayor Rick Householder. “We will look into that at a later date. For now we’ve asked if Sheriff Frankie Springfield and his deputies could help out on days when Police Chief Chris Evitts is off.”
The Webster County Sheriff’s Department will be stepping up patrols in the Clay area to assist.
In other business, although the new Clay Fire Department building is progressing according to schedule, Fire Chief Jeremy Moore secured extensions to the grants that are paying for the $249,000 project. Like many grants from the state, these came with a set completion date which will be up later this year.
“We are looking good on time,” said Householder. “We plan to have it done by the original deadline, but we were worried that if something was to happen and we weren’t done on time, we’d lose our funding.”
For the last several years, Fire Chief Jeremy Moore has been saving extra funds to help the department purchase a new fire truck. At the meeting council members were told that State Representative Jim Gooch would soon be presenting a proposal in Frankfort to help Clay pay the remainder of the cost.

Water District will conduct cost of service study during summer

May consider rate increase following study

J-E News Editor
Concerns over rising electric rates were the biggest concern of the Webster County Water District at it’s monthly meeting, held last Thursday morning in Dixon.
District superintendent Paul Lashbrook told the board that over the last three months they have received bills from Kenergy for $7,001, $9,730 and $12,800.
“A lot of that has to do with the electric rate increase,” he said. “We’ve also had uncommonly cold weather, which had a little to do with it too.”
Lashbrook cautioned the board that the $12,800 bill from February might not be the highest, saying that the bills often ran a month behind.
“We’ve been doing a lot of research on the cost of producing water,” he said. He said assistant superintendent Robert Schindley has been feeding data on expenses and salaries and feeding them into a computer program. “It came to about $2.00 per 1,000 gallons of water produced.”
Lashbrook’s suggestion to the board was that they bring in a professional to do a cost of service study. That study could identify areas where the district could be losing funds, helping them to tighten up their expenditures.
“I’m sure they’ll suggest that we should raise the rates, and I’m sure we should,” he said, pointing out that the water district had not increased rates since April of 1999. “None of us wants to raise rates, but we have an obligation to keep the water district financially solid. I’m not saying we are going to go broke tomorrow, but stuff is starting to break and wear out on us.”
After some discussion with the board members, it was decided that the cost of service study should wait until after the Public Service Commission (PSC) makes a decision on another rate increase request filed by Big Rivers, the company that supplies Kenergy with electricity.
The board will consider having the study done sometime in mid-summer.
In other business, board members decided not to change the district’s policy on water turn ons. Currently when water is restored to a structure, the worker who turns the service back on will stay with the meter until it stops running.
At last month’s meeting the board discussed changing the current policy to require that the property owner or some other representative be in the home to sign a waiver form before service was restored. The concern was that if the service had been shut off to allow some plumbing work to be done, those lines might start to leak when filled with water. If no one was home it could flood the entire house, leaving the county open to some liability.
“This would open up a whole new ball game for us,” said Schindley. “I think it would cost us a whole lot more down the road.”
He said that under the new policy, district employees would be forced to work on the customer’s schedule. This could lead to lots of down time and even over time.
Lashbrook said that he spoke with several other districts, and everyone had the same policy that is currently on the books for Webster County. Apparently the service contract signed by customers when they start their initial service releases the district from liability in such cases.
It was reported that the county had finally received all bills for damage caused to pumps at the Green River water intake last month when an unknown shooter destroyed a transformer. After being shot the transformer blew, causing two of the intake motors to burnout.
The final cost was between $20,000-$21,000. Lashbrook expects the districts insurance to cover all but their $1,000 deductible.
Finally, board members voted to purchase a new service two-wheel drive service truck. They will pay $20,070 for a new 2X4 1/2 ton Dodge Ram, which is expected to arrive in about six weeks.
All but $70 of this purchase was included in the yearly budget.

Coal truck wreck knocks out power

J-E News Editor
      A coal truck owned by Hutchison Trucking went off the road Wednesday morning on Highway 120 near Green Grove.
      The truck was heading west on 120 at about 11:30 am when Its front tires exited the road. The truck then jumped an asphalt driveway and crossed the highway. It then went through a fence and downed a power, knocking out power to Kenergy customers in the Green Grove area.
       The driver was transported to Baptist Hospital by a personal vehicle.

Dixon’s Bourland Park to get new ball field

J-E News Editor
Dixon Little League Commissioner Steve Sowder was at last week’s Dixon Commission meeting to request approval from the city to construct a new ball field.
Sowder told the commission the second field would be used for younger players, and asked the Commissioner to consider purchasing a backstop and a power pole for lighting. The total cost for the City was estimated at about $2,100 for the backstop, plus the cost of the power pole.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the project, and then followed up by agreeing to purchase the requested equipment.
Both Bourland and Baker Parks officially reopen in March as soccer, baseball and softball programs get underway. These leagues will last through July.
Mayor Linda Frederick presented the Commission with a copy of the recently completed audit on behalf of City Auditor Mike Overby, who was unable to attend the meeting due to a family illness.  Frederick said Overby reported to her that the audit was a good report, and suggested the Commission review the report at their convenience. 
Frederick added that Overby offered to come to a future meeting to discuss his findings, or to meet with the commissioners individually.
Water Operator Jamie Harkins told the commission that a driveway recently torn up during a waterline repair would also have to be repaired. It was noted that a sidewalk grant the city has recently received cannot be used in this instance. 
Commissioners also reviewed a letter sent to a resident concerning a dangerous situation. Apparently there is an open pit located on the property on Highway 132 West. Commissioner Royster suggested giving the resident time to come up with a solution for fixing the problem before the city take sany action.