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FISCAL COURT: Population drops, ambulance services still not adequate and Founders Day plans

SALYERSVILLE – The Magoffin County Fiscal Court met in regular session on Tuesday, discussing upcoming Founders Day, the Census and ambulance services.

Magoffin County Judge/Executive Matt Wireman updated the court on the animal shelter progress, noting they have completed the construction portion of the project and should be able to have a grand opening soon.

Wireman said he would like to start a local humane society, which would run the shelter, as is done in other counties and would be volunteer-based. He said they have been lucky to have another rescue helping them lately, but they still have 30 dogs and 18 cats on the list to pick up.

The court approved a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Agriculture in support of spaying and neutering pet procedures, which was required to by a grant they have received for $2,100 for the shelter.

The fiscal court agreed to advertise for bids on the Magoffin County Industrial Park water project, setting the Big Sandy Area Development District as the project coordinator. Judge Wireman explained that they had some coal severance funding set aside for the project, but water and sewer projects are now allowable expenditures under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), so they can use that federal funding for the project.

Also important for that funding, the court approved a budget for the ARPA funds, allocating $2.362 million to the county, with $2,059,000 for water projects, $77,371 for sewer projects and he’s hoping to be able to use $225,000 of that funding for “hero pay,” to support the county workers who worked through the pandemic.

The fiscal court approved a budget for the Kentucky Infrastructure Cleaner Water Program funding, in hopes of helping Magoffin County Water District and Salyersville Water Works to apply for funding on underfunded water projects.

Wireman noted that workers are currently surveying the community for unmet needs regarding water lines, assessing what would need to happen to provide everyone the opportunity to be on the county or city water systems.

The court approved the auction contract with JM Wood to sell the current KACO Mack truck, which will go to auction next month, as well as the purchase agreement with Worldwide Equipment for a new tri-axel dump truck, per their lease agreement through KACO that allows them to auction off the truck they bought last year and to buy a new one, keeping the same lease payment and having a new truck each year.

The fiscal court approved the agreement and resolution with the Department of Rural and Municipal Aid for bridge replacements under the 80/20 Bridge Program, which is the program they have used to purchase box culverts to replace deteriorating bridges throughout the county.

Wireman said they are working on one on Birch Branch and the next will be on Marion Hale Road.

The court honored two petitions to close county roads, agreeing to close Mossy Oak Drive and Rowe Branch Spur, as requested by the landowners.

During communications, Judge Wireman said the city is tentatively planning to have an announcement on August 20 regarding the plans for how Founders Day will be conducted with the ever-changing COVID-19 situation. There will be a DAV dedication on Saturday, September 4 for the Henry Joseph addition to the community center, as well as a fireworks display that night. Wireman said they are still needing sponsors for the fireworks, noting at any money they receive five to six days prior to the date will mean a bigger show. He said they are still assessing how they will conduct the pageants this year, whether with a crowd, or families only and streaming the events online for the community.

As for road projects and maintenance, Wireman said the weather keeps setting back their plans, but reminded the public they are still coming.

They’ve finished the resurfacing projects already funded and have already applied for $1 million more under the same program. He said they have box culverts built for Little Bear, Blanton Branch and Charles Bailey Road, and will get those installed once they get caught up on the culvert cleanups from the recent rain to prevent further flooding.

Crews have finished laying the groundwork for the playground at the Half Mountain park and they are waiting on the paperwork to buy another small section of land at the Bloomington Park. He said they hope to have that piece of property purchase and filled in before winter so it will have time to settle before being paved in the spring.

Wireman also said they had been wanting to paint the poles at the horse park, but hadn’t had a chance to, yet, but the University of Pikeville soccer team had 20 guys needing something to do. He said with their help, it was looking great down there and there is a show scheduled for this weekend.

Under Wireman’s advisement, the court agreed to hire another deputy jailer to transport Big Sandy Regional Detention Center inmates to and from the county to work, hiring Daniel Risner to start on September 7 or as soon as his training can be completed. With the current deputy jailer unable to transport them, currently and until Risner can start city employees are providing the transportation, but the new hire will allow the county to get inmates to work as much as three days a week and the city will get them for the other two weekdays. He also noted that after the pandemic he hopes to get some inmates from West Liberty, as well, to help keep up with the mowing and weed eating.

They also agreed to hire Rebecca Fletcher part-time for 911 to fill in when they need someone. Fletcher is already a dispatcher for Prestonsburg, so she’s already trained, and will be able to help them while one employee is out for medical reasons and another while he attends college.

Wireman urged the public to apply for the 911 position, noting that he is hopeful they will start receiving more money for having mobile 911 capabilities, which he plans to use to hire another dispatcher.

While the full reports have not been released, yet, Wireman did go over the decline in population highlighted by last year’s Census. He said Magoffin County has lost almost 1,700 people, which is a significant portion and will negatively affect how much the county can receive from state and federal funding allocations. He said it was a 12.7% decrease in population, which will hurt the community for 10 years until the next Census is conducted.

Wireman also updated the court on the status of the ambulance service while a representative from Lifeguard Ambulance Service was in attendance. He said they have had many meetings and the problem lies in the fact they do not have enough EMTs and the ones they have also have other jobs that pay more, limiting their hours. While he said he understood that, he also explained that from July 1 to August 17 there had been 107 emergency medical calls requiring ambulances and of those calls, 13 were when the county was at a “level zero,” meaning no staffed ambulances in the county.

“That’s almost 13%,” Wireman said. “That’s still unacceptable.”

At the end of the meeting approximately 10 minutes later, when Wireman asked if the Lifeguard representative had anything he wanted to say, he said only, “I’m just happy to be here.”

In other news, the court approved the fund transfer of $35,000 from the general fund to the jail fund, and approved to renew their flood insurance through Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance.

The next fiscal court meeting is tentatively set for September 21 at 6 p.m. in the fiscal courtroom of the Magoffin County Court House Albert Patrick Building.

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