Fiscal Court resumes public attendance

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County Attorney Martin Hatfield and Judge-Executive Steve Kelley explain the need to gather more information before holding road hearings to change the county inventory.

Pulaski County Fiscal Court resumed allowing public attendance for the first time since July.

When the commonwealth first shut down in mid-March due to COVID-19, Fiscal Court -- which usually meets twice a month -- dropped to once monthly and livestreamed those meetings via Facebook. When the court reopened to the public on June 9, the room was limited to 33 percent capacity but was again closed for the July 28 meeting when the state renewed restrictions limiting group size.

"This is our first session back open to the public," Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said in welcoming the audience Tuesday. "We've got a decent crowd in here trying to keep everybody socially distanced. If you can't be six feet apart, we'd ask that you keep a mask on."

Having the audience meant that court officials were back at their regular seats, rather than keeping at least one seat between them. Some wore masks while others did not. District 5 Magistrate Mike Strunk wasn't in attendance.

Tuesday's meeting was fairly routine until near the end, when the court entered into a 55-minute executive session to discuss property issues prior to holding road hearings. No action was taken during the closed session and as they reconvened, the court opted to postpone the hearings on the advice of County Attorney Martin Hatfield.

"We have a couple of complex issues to deal with regarding these roads," Judge Kelley said.

Hatfield further explained that more information was needed about Fins and Feathers Road in District 5 and J. McGlothlin Road (District 1) before the court could take action. In regard to Edward Meece Road, he said that the court should wait for a ruling from the Kentucky Supreme Court on a pending motion for discretionary review before taking it into the county road inventory.

"We put a lot of trust in Martin," Judge Kelley said in recommending that the court postpone any vote.

Earlier in the meeting, Hatfield had presented Fiscal Court with three other real estate issues with one involving a tract along Ky. 914 and Slate Branch Road generating the most discussion.

Hatfield explained that an attorney had approached him about a client purchasing the land, described as a small triangular tract which was left isolated after Ky. 914 was built. Government agencies traditionally have only been able to dispose of land through public means (an auction, for example) but Hatfield noted that a recent change in law allows for a private sale if the property is worth less than a certain amount.

The county attorney advised the court to have the tract surveyed and appraised, but Judge Kelley seemed reluctant to spend an estimated $600 to $700 on the venture. He instead suggested that the county take sealed bids on the land, at only the cost of advertising a public notice.

In the end, District 3 Magistrate Jimmy Wheeldon moved to go forward with a survey with a second from District 4 Magistrate Mark Ranshaw. The motion passed unanimously.

In other business, Fiscal Court:

• heard the first reading of a budget amendment in the amount of $4,642,111. County Treasurer Joan Isaacs explained that the large amount included revenue from the sale of the Garner property (to be developed as the SPEDA Commerce Park) as well as CARES funding for COVID-19 related expenses.

• approved fund transfers including $250,000 from the Occupational Tax Fund to the General Fund; $150,000 from the General Fund to the Jail Fund; and $50,000 from the General to 911 Fund.

• voted to keep Neikirk Insurance as the county's agent of record for health coverage and to keep the same plan. Judge Kelley announced that open enrollment won't be in person. Enrollment forms will instead be sent out with county employees' next pay stubs and must be returned by October 30.

• approved a deed of correction as presented by Hatfield, who explained that the brick building between the Hemisphere Limited building and Commonwealth's Attorney's office was inadvertently included in the original deed when the county acquired the Judicial Center property. The new deed is needed so that the building may be sold.

• approved a quitclaim deed for a property off University Drive that had been used for drainage but was later filled in to provide a yard for Patricia Farmer's home.

• approved the promotion of Devin Fortenberry from part time to full time at Pulaski County 911 Dispatch Center.

• unveiled a clock face which once looked out from the tower of the old Pulaski County Courthouse. Judge Kelley said the face was one of four on each side of the clock tower and had been salvaged by the late Marshall Davenport, a former County Clerk, when the old building was razed in the 1970s. Vicki Goode, who purchased the Davenport home, found the clock face in the basement and donated it back to the county after researching its history.

"We have a nice piece of history hanging now in our courtroom," Judge Kelley said. "I want to say thank you to Vicki for her kindness in donating that back to Fiscal Court."

• announced that Mill Springs National Park will be formally dedicated Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. in an outdoor ceremony at the Mill Springs Visitors Center and Museum. Congressman Hal Rogers and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are expected to join National Park Service officials.

• announced that Firebrook Park will be hosting the annual Trail of Treats from 5 to 7 p.m. this Friday.

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