Hoping to continue cutting expenditures, members of the Harlan County Fiscal Court, at a recent meeting, agreed any and all spending over $5,000 must be approved by the court, excluding all coal severance projects.
Magistrate David Kennedy said right now money is “as tight as a banjo string.” He said if the court doesn’t start watching expenditures, he sees “a train coming and it’s going to run over all of us.”
Approving four road and bridge projects, Harlan County Road Supervisor Marvin Goins said these are high priority.
“We just put one road back to where it was supposed to be — Witt Road at Highsplint, because of a slide,” said Goins. “It cost us approximately $19,275 to repair it. We had to build an elaborate steel wall to hold it back in place. This was the only road out for people who live there and the road was breaking off. Our choices were limited. We’ve got two more places, Pine Branch Road at Grays Knob, and Brashears Road in Totz, that are in the same shape as this one, but I don’t think it’ll cost as much to fix them. We’ll lose them if we don’t fix them now.
Roddy suggested price quotes be obtained before any additional road projects begin, regardless of where they are in the county.
“I agree with Jim. I think any time a road project is going to cost in excess of $5,000, I think it needs to be approved by the full fiscal court,” said Kennedy. “That way everybody feels comfortable. We don’t need to approve every little single road project. We’ve got to give the judge some discretion to do some of this, but with the money like it is right now, I think we have to do this. If it’s an emergency situation then the judge needs to set a special called meeting and discuss that issue. This will allow the magistrates to see exactly what we’re spending.”
Goins said there is only one contractor in the county who can do the steel repairs needed on some of the county roads. He suggested the county might broaden their scope and look outside the county to bid work.
“Marvin, I’d contact the road foreman in Bell and Letcher counties and get names and numbers of contractors in those counties. Contact them to see if they’ll be willing to come into Harlan County and give you a quote,” said Kennedy. “Compare their quotes with our local contractor. That’s a starting point because they have the same issues in other counties.”
Goins said the problems on Brashears Road is that the road is sliding and it’s sliding onto someone’s property line, which borders the county’s property line.
“The property owner built a building right on the property line,” said Kennedy. “This is the problem we’re looking at here. What do you do? Do you let it slide — push his building over and then pay for everything? The problem too is Waste Connections has to drive through there and they are refusing to pick the garbage up out there.”
Goins said since he first looked at this slide, the crack has increased by about 40 feet. He said they are now looking at 130 feet of dirt sliding.
“The Pine Branch Road, if we lose that road, people will not be able to get to their homes,” said Goins. “The road has sunk about three feet and it’s half the road. It’s not a big area, only about 20 feet, but it’s got to be fixed. We have no choice but to fix it. We can’t let people park at the bottom of the road and walk home.”
Goins said the average cost to repair a road is now approximately $10,000. He said the cost stems from the amount of dirt to be removed in most cases and the cost for steel retaining walls. Each day minor repairs average about $3,000 to $4,000 just for materials and that is with county crews performing the work. He added the average cost for a contractor is about $8,000.
Pushing to have the lagoon/levy project at Loyall approved for repairs, Magistrate Delbert Stephens said the project will cost anywhere from $7,500 to $8,000 or possibly $10,000, and will take approximately one week to complete.
“The lagoon/levy project needs to be approved,” said Stephens. “This has become a real problem for the residents of Loyall.”
Goins said in the lagoon there is an intake from the Cumberland River where water flows through to keep the lagoon washed out. He said there is an exhaust at the other end where the water goes back to the Cumberland River. He also added the problem has created, on the disbursement side of the intake, a delta.
“We don’t have the equipment capability to reach any of that dirt with a backhoe,” said Goins. “Plus, according to the Division of Water, whatever we take out of there has to be placed on the bank for 72 hours, and once all the water runs out of it, the dirt has to be removed to an approved site. We can’t do any of this without the Division of Water saying ‘yes.’ Because of the non-flow of this water, it’s causing a terrible problem with mosquitoes in the summer, smell and a lot of other problems from stagnant water. What we have to do is have a contractor go in there with a track hoe, bulldozer and trucks and clean this thing out. Both the intake and outtake drains will also have to be cleaned out.”
“We want quality work done on this so we don’t have to go back and do this all over again,” said Stephens. “This project has already been discussed. We’ve called the Division of Water — the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers — sent out letters already quoting a price and I think we need to get this project done.”
Goins suggested from this point on he write a set of specifications for every project the county does. He said by doing this a contractor can’t get in the middle of a project and expect more money. The contractor will have to agree to one price and work to be completed initially.
Kennedy suggested at some point in time the county purchase a track hoe to save money on contractor services.
After a lengthy discussion, approval was made to complete the Pine Branch and Brashears roads projects, which are slides, and the lagoon/levy project in Loyall.
Also approved was a patch project on Ledford Bridge at Dizney.
A motion was made and approved that any and all spending over $5,000 must be approved by the fiscal court, excluding all coal severance projects.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org