Police report phone system failure

By Mark Bell - For the Enterprise

During Monday night’s Harlan City Council meeting, Police Chief Mike Thomas told council members that a recent failure of the department’s phones would cost the city $5,700 for a replacement system.

Thomas said the system completely failed over the prior weekend and dispatchers had to temporarily use their own cell phones to continue managing the calls until a replacement could be arranged.

In addition to new hardware, an additional phone line has been installed which should help the staff better handle the volume of calls coming in as Harlan manages dispatching duties for many other departments around the county, Thomas said.

Engineer Leo Miller told council the main sewer line between Baxter and Harlan will have to be replaced due to increases in the number of customers since adding Catrons Creek, Grays Knob, Browning Acres and others to the system. The existing line is not large enough to effectively handle the current volume of waste water, he said.

He also reported the addition of the first phase of the Wallins sewer project was now complete and those customers have been hooked onto the system. Phase two is being designed now, he added.

In a related note, the mayor commented on savings from recent sewage pump repairs, which he said had become “more feasible” with the near total collapse of the local mining industry which resulting in equipment repair services now looking for all the work they could get.

“They’re a lot more interested in fixing the units now rather than just telling us it can’t be done and we need to buy new,” he said.

Howard told the council the city’s attorney assures him that they are “only a few days away” from acquiring some dilapidated property in Fairview near the Cawood Ledford Boys and Girls Club. Negotiations with Commercial Bank are nearly complete.

COAP will be buying two of the lots for future housing locations, the mayor noted, and the club will be buying the others in order to begin a building project to upgrade their facility and expand the programs offered to local children.

The city is also “days away” from acquiring the deed to property on Central and First Streets, the old Modern Electric building, that will be converted for use as a community arts center, Howard reported.

The mayor noted that COAP would be providing the renovation work and the community arts council would schedule activities in cooperation with the city.

“This will provide a good spirit for our town and be a place to do things the local arts community believes we need to do here,” Howard told the council.

In a related matter, Will Miller reported on upcoming Eagle Scout projects that would create history-themed walking tours in downtown. These will be produced in collaboration with the Harlan Tourist and Convention Commission.

The first project would be a “pipe organ tour” featuring the five community churches with these historic instruments. Local musicians have noted that Harlan, being a small town, is somewhat unique in having such a large number of these, and in very close proximity which makes a walking tour an attractive option for visitors.

These types of tours are common in large cities, particularly in Europe. The tours would be self-directed using audio files on smart phones and also printed maps would be available through The Harlan Center. It’s also possible that performances could be arranged if the project proves popular.

Another idea involves developing tours built around oral histories, including from such incidents as the Turner-Howard Feud and 1930s-era stories from the fabled “Bloody Harlan” era.

During her report, Fire Chief Lynette Hutchison asked the council for support in reminding citizens of the need to dispose of smoke alarms after 10 years and to remove the batteries first.

Recently, she said, the department responded to a call which turned out to be nothing more than an old smoke alarm beeping in someone’s trash bag.

In other action, the council:

• Heard a new street sweeper would be put into scheduled use this week;

• Agreed to pay the monthly bills and accepted other department reports;

• Held a lengthy executive session to discuss pending litigation.

By Mark Bell

For the Enterprise

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