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Flood and ice storm cleanup, ambulance services and more discussed at FC meeting

The Magoffin County Fiscal Court met in regular session on Tuesday, discussing the next steps in the ice storm and flood cleanup.

SALYERSVILLE – The Magoffin County Fiscal Court met in regular session on Tuesday, discussing the next steps in the ice storm and flood cleanup.

Under financial business, the court approved fund transfers from the general fund of $35,000 to the jail fund and $10,000 to the LGEA fund.

Magoffin County Judge/Executive Matt Wireman told the court that the committees have not been meeting due to the pandemic, however, the DAV and veterans committee will start meeting in April, so they will be able to continue the work they have already started, identifying veterans to be honored with road dedications.

Magoffin County Court Clerk Renee Arnett-Shepherd turned over excess fees of $1,539 from 2018 and $15,875.09 from 2020.

The Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office also turned over $48,765 in excess fees from 2020, with Melodye Stephens, office manager for the department, explaining that is a partial payment since they haven’t been audited, yet. Wireman also noted that around $44,000 of that money is the CARES Act funding the sheriff’s office received, but hadn’t been able to spend, yet. Wireman said they will transfer that money back to the sheriff’s office when the sheriff is ready to use that money for its intended purpose.

The court approved the jail budget for the 2021/2022 fiscal year, which is the same as last year’s budget except for cost-of-living allowances that go into the jailer’s salary, Wireman explained.

The fiscal court approved a resolution for the 2021 Kentucky Recycling Grant Program, which will allow the county to receive a couple more box trailers to be used for the recycling program.

As the COVID-19 incidence rates continue to drop and more services can open back up, Wireman said he wanted to go ahead and have the court approve rental fees for the Lloyd M. Hall Community Center, the horse park and for shelters at the Bloomington and Half Mountain parks. The court approved the rates of $50 for a 3-hour block at the community center for parties, showers, reunions, get-togethers, etc., and $100 for ticketed events (in which they would have the space for the whole day). The horse park will have the same rates as the community center, he said, with a $100 rental fee for an all-day event, with the addition of a refundable $100 deposit. There will be no charge at Bloomington and Half Mountain parks to use for parties, showers, reunions, etc., and $100 for ticketed events. He noted that only non-profit groups can use the county’s rentable spaces for ticketed events.

The court approved the petition to close Honeysuckle Lane, with everyone living on that road noting they did not want the road in the county road system. They agreed to adopt the W Howard Road, off of Lacy Creek, into the county road system, as requested by the landowners’ petition. The court also approved the petitioned closure of Cecil Lovely Cemetery Road.

They approved to hire ER Assist Disaster Solutions to run the administration side of the cleanup of the trees from the ice storm in order to receive the most amount of funding possible for the cleanup. Wireman explained that they can help with securing FEMA funding for public assistance.

“We just don’t have the manpower to handle all of that, but this group does all of the paperwork side so we can get every dollar we should,” Wireman said.

He also explained that right now they have the spring cleanup dates planned, as printed on page A3 of this week’s paper, but they may end up having to shift those dates. Wireman explained that the workers are swamped with ice storm and flood debris cleanup and they will have to assess the feasibility of the cleanup dates closer to time.

Wireman reminded the public that Rumpke is still taking flood debris from customers with accounts in good standing and that he is hoping to be able to help those in the county that do not have the ability to haul the debris very soon.

As far as the litter abatement grants, Wireman asked that all people who plan to do a trash pickup to call the judge’s office at 606-349-2313 before April 1. He said they are trying to see how much money they can give each group from the grant funding.

“We’ve got to get on this,” Wireman said about trash pickups. “There’s just so much trash and that’s us. We’re throwing it out on our way home and it’s got to stop. I don’t know if it’s because with the pandemic everyone is ordering out more or what, but it’s got to stop. It’s mostly fast food trash and it’s a shame.”

Wireman said FEMA will be out doing inspections regarding individual assistance on Thursday and Friday this week. With more than 150 homes in Magoffin County affected by the flood, he said he was skeptical they would visit every home, but they will be looking at places where water got into the homes.

The magistrates reminded the judge/executive about road work needing done, commending the road crews for their hard work and the residents for their help with the cleanup and understanding for how long these projects take.

Magistrate Pernell “Buck” Lemaster reminded the public to call the judge’s office at 6060-349-2313 to let them know any issues they may be having, noting to the county may not know about the need until someone tells them.

Wireman said everything is up at the animal shelter site and they will be sealing the concrete soon, then put in the kennels, with the hopes of opening the shelter in April.

Lifeguard Ambulance Service Director of Operations Bill Baker addressed the court regarding some rumors and concerns. Baker said the judge/executive had told him about a rumor going around that Lifeguard is going to take the ambulance service out of Magoffin, which he said was completely unfounded and not true.

Baker said there were some concerns about the service in Magoffin County, with no available ambulances at times, but he said Lifeguard will not pull ambulances out of Magoffin County, leaving it with no coverage, with the only exception being to transport Magoffin County residents to a local hospital.

He said the biggest issue they have is the lack of staff, but they plan to hire more employees, which he noted is a nationwide issue. Baker said they are working to bring EM classes back to Eastern Kentucky (with the closest right now being in Richmond at Eastern Kentucky University).

“We have the money and the equipment, but not enough people,” Baker said.

Magistrate Darrell Ray Howard asked if it does happen, that they receive calls and don’t have anyone to send, with Baker explaining that if all of their staffed ambulances are out on other calls in the county, they will call an ambulance nearby to come, instead.

Baker said their EMT classes are free as long as the person signs a contract to stay with the company for one year. He said they have a very impressive benefits package and volunteer firefighters receive an extra sign-on bonus.

Wireman said the company needs to work on being more visible in the media.

“I hear all the time on the scanner no one is available and that’s the kind of issues we need to know why,” Wireman said. “It just needs to make more sense. It’s hard when you’re laying there in pain or it’s your loved one and there’s no one available. It’s hard to stomach that.”

The next regular Magoffin County Fiscal Court meeting is tentatively slated for Tuesday, April 20 at 6 p.m.

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