After nearly a year and a half of negotiations over the wording of the contract, the Whitley County Fiscal Court has agreed to sign an agreement with the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter to provide animal housing services for the county.
In June 2003, the shelter agreed to allow the county to have a voting representative on the shelter board of directors and fiscal court members agreed to provide $25,000 a year in funding for the shelter.
Magistrates unanimously voted to approve the contract during Tuesday’s monthly fiscal court meeting.
Whitley County Judge-Executive Mike Patrick said there had been some conflicts over the wording of the contract, which had delayed the approval of the contract by the fiscal court.
Animal Shelter President Debra C. Wright had asked fiscal court members to go ahead and sign the contract Tuesday morning, but Patrick said the contract signing needed to be held at another time since Whitley County Attorney Paul Winchester was needed in district court following the meeting.
“I think this is a big step forward for Whitley County,” Wright said about the agreement.
Patrick said the county has received a $50,000 grant to help fund the shelter, and that after that grant runs out the county will begin making contributions out of the general fund.
By law, each county is required to have an animal shelter and a dog warden or animal control officer.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, magistrates received a report from Sheriff Lawrence Hodge concerning his department’s activity for the year 2004.
As of Dec. 15, Hodge noted that deputies had answered 9,344 complaints, arrested 1,231 people, and had issued 2,791 citations.
In addition, deputies took down 18 active methamphetamine labs, attempted raids on 31 other labs, and made 23 meth-related arrest.
Hodge said the number of meth lab busts is down from previous years, which could be either a good thing or bad thing.
Hodge said the number of labs may have decreased, or that the more likely scenario is that the drug dealers have just gotten better at hiding them.
Hodge asked magistrates for their assistance in getting people to mark their houses better with street numbers.
He noted one recent case where he went to respond to a burglar alarm, searched for 30 minutes, and could not find the house because no houses on the road in question had any house numbers or addresses listed on mail boxes.
Hodge asked magistrates to look into an ordinance requiring better markings on houses since it is not only a problem for his department for emergency workers as well.
Whitley County EMS Director Kelli Harrison said her employees routinely go on calls where they spend several minutes searching for the homes. Sometimes callers call back to 911 irate over ambulance workers not arriving sooner, but she said there is little they can do if people don’t mark their homes better.
Patrick said he thinks there may be some provision requiring certain numbering of homes in the 911 ordinance, but that he’s not sure.
Magistrate Nolan Bird, who is a retired police officer, added that the county shouldn’t have to ask people to make their addressed more visible for emergency workers, and that it is something the public should do on its own.
In other business, the fiscal court:
• Voted to send letters to two property owners requesting that right of way access be given on Chestnut Road in order to widen it.
County officials said they had received approval from all but two property owners.
One local resident said the owners, who don’t live locally, said they didn’t want the road widened for fear it would raise their taxes. The resident urged magistrates to widen the road anyway and begin condemnation procedures noting that the road was very narrow in places.
Patrick said county officials want to send out one more letter before deciding on a next step. If the county chooses to begin condemnation proceedings, they would have to reimburse the landowners for the costs of the property and court costs.
Magistrate Burley Foley expressed reservations about pursuing that avenue though noting that it would set a precedent for such actions across the county.
“We’d open a whole can of worms if we start condemning property,” he added.
• Approved a petition to rename Pennington Lane as Copperhead Road pending approval by the remaining property owners. Patrick said one reason for the change is that there is already a Pennington Road, and that some mail is being sent to the wrong place. Three of the six property owners have already agreed on the name change.
• Adopted a resolution concerning an agreement with the Department of Highways to reimburse the county up to $270,000 for resurfacing of various roads. Patrick said the resurfacing project was promised by the previous administration in Frankfort, and that the money is just now coming through. Two magistrates expressed displeasure over the roads selected.
• Approved the adoption of Snow White Road into the county road system.
• Authorized Patrick to enter into a service agreement with Holston Gases to provide oxygen for Whitley County ambulances.
• Approved an entertainment permit for Larry and Vicky Thacker.
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