By KAREN JONES CODY
The Knott County Fiscal Court voted to hire one employee and increase the duties and salary of another in a special meeting last week. (The court’s regular meeting was postponed from Monday until Tuesday for the observance of Presidents Day.)
Following a closed session to discuss personnel, Judge-Executive Zach Weinberg announced that help was needed at the road department, and recommended hiring Ralph Dyer, who has a CDL license and can run equipment. Dyer will be hired with an entry-level salary and benefits.
The Judge explained that Shawn Owens, previously hired as Tourism Director, will now also be handling the Ecology Office and Economic Development. His Tourism position is funded by the Knott Tourism Commission; Judge Weinberg recommended the county add to that salary to bring it from $19,000 to $32,000 and also add benefits. “We’d like to do this until time for the next budget and then reevaluate the situation,” Weinberg said.
The court gave their approval to both employees. District One Magistrate Jamie Mosley pointed out that both are hired under a six-month probationary period, as all new hires are required to be by the administrative code.
Chuck Childers with the Kentucky Transportation Department introduced Paxton Weddington, the department’s new branch manager for Pike, Knott and Letcher counties, then presented the state’s recommendations for road repair under the Rural and Secondary Road Program.
Childers explained that the money for these repairs comes from gasoline taxes and is distributed across the state based on miles of roads. Knott County will receive $1.4 million this year. “We’ve gone over the roads and put together a plan to take care of the most needed repairs,” he explained. He added that part of Rt. 7 in Knott will have full resurfacing, and deficiencies in the concrete section of Rt. 80 will be rehabbed.
Childers asked the court for additional suggestions, saying, “If you have anything we need to pay attention to, we will do the best we can.” District Three Magistrate Mark Chaffins asked about potholes on Rt. 80; Childers said if money is available they may completely mill up that area and resurface it, but at the very least it will have pothole patch.
“Salt and the freeze and thaw we’ve had has hurt a lot of roads,” Childers remarked.
Judge Weinberg praised the highway department employees for their work during all the recent poor weather conditions. “Your crews do a great job,” he said.
“They take pride in their work, and it shows,” Childers responded. “Their families drive these roads too!”
The court unanimously approved the suggested road plan.
The court voted to appoint Robby Slone to the East Kentucky Regional Jail Board, replacing Ricky Prater. They also approved a resolution naming March as American Red Cross Month in Knott County.
A request for payment to Smith Contractors and R.M. Johnson Engineering for work completed on the Carr Creek Water Treatment Plant upgrade received unanimous approval. A representative from KRADD told the court that the project is 75% complete and should be finished in May.
The court voted to accept eight roads into the county road maintenance system. Later, during the public comments section of the meeting, members of the court granted the request of a property owner to have their driveway classified as private. The landowner said it was mistakenly listed as a county road, “and we don’t want it to be. The county has never maintained it.”
The court approved the claims list with little discussion.
County Treasurer Kevin Jacobs shared his monthly report. According to Jacobs, the General Fund had $116,264.28; Jail Fund, $8,024.94; Road Fund, $1,110,204.95; and LGEA, $355,095.14. Jacobs said that since the last meeting, all the bills on the claims list have been paid, except for election software; he is still waiting for a revised bill.
Judge Weinberg asked if the county was remaining within their budget, and Jacobs said, “Yes, so far – no surprises.”
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