Hawesville City Council met on Tuesday evening, January 10th. Newly elected Hawesville Mayor Robbie McCormick and newly elected council member, Justin Basham, along with council members Wayne Herndon, Tracy Johnson, Pat “Junnie” Morris, Kevin Linn and Danny Doyle were joined by Matt Curtis, co-owner of Bluegrass Engineering, who has been working with Hawesville and Matt Curtis, co-owner of Bluegrass Engineering for several years.
McCormick introduced Curtis, saying that it is “common sense” to continue working with Curtis and Bluegrass Engineering because Curtis has been working with the County for several years and knows all of the details of the current water situation.
Lift Station Improvement Project to begin soon
Curtis spoke and began by saying that he is glad to continue working with the City of Hawesville. “There are a couple of projects going on, to give you an update,” he said. “One of the projects that bid quite a while ago was the lift station improvement project – that was residual funds that were left over from the treatment plant loan and grant that we were going to utilize to revitalize 2 lift stations. A lot of that work is getting ready to start in the next couple weeks. A lot of the materials have come in. They’re looking to start on either the 16th or the 23rd (of January) depending upon whether our inspector, Bob Wilson, will be here to cover that.”
US 60 Water Main Replacement
“The other project is the US 60 water main replacement,” Curtis said. They’re getting ready to widen US 60 between Vastwood and Commonwealth Drive. That project has a pre-construction meeting at District 2 office on the 25th of this month. That project has been bid, I think, about 6 different times in the last year. It has been over budget and re-bid continuously. They finally got it within the budget and that project is going to be moving forward. We’ll have more details after the 25th (of January) as far as when those dates of starting construction on the roadway. It’s 100% paid by KYTC to relocate your 10-inch line. As you’re turning in to Vastwood Park, your 10-inch main is on the right hand side of the road. We’re going to have to re-bore both eastbound and westbound lanes and in case, in the median, and lower the line due to what work they’re planning on doing on the widening there. We’ve had to work with the City of Lewisport and their natural gas line and they have some water lines that have to be relocated as well. You guys will be getting the new 10-inch line across 60 that feeds Vastwood tank.”
Curtis added that, “There have been discussions about it quite a bit – the lead and copper rules that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has come down on. We will be working with your staff – Todd and Ryan – going through and doing service line inventory, which is required to be done by October, 2024. They’ve (EPA) made it very cumbersome that not only on the city side of the meter – so the city has responsibility to the meter from the main – and from the meter to the house is the property owner or resident of that property’s (responsibility). With this rule, from the federal level, they’re wanting to know what pipe material is on both sides of that meter. There’s some work that has to go into that as far as itemizing – you guys are already in the process of doing that but it’s a matter of, we have to list, specifically, each address – if there’s a block of homes that we can say is ineligible due to age of construction, age of a water line…there are different caveats in it. It’s probably one of the most cumbersome rules that has come down in my career in almost 25 years from the EPA. It, primarily, got legs due to what happened in Flint, Michigan and what’s happened in Jackson, Mississippi.
I want to say this more for the public’s knowledge: What happened, particularly in Flint, most older systems have those (heavy metals) in their system. There are preventative maintenance items that can be done that they were doing before they went into receivership. This is factual evidence. This came out through the litigation up there. The receivership that it went into refused to allow them to use corrosion prohibitor chemicals in the water like they had been doing that would limit lead and copper. Those are they kinds of things utilities across the nation are doing – using those chemicals for those purposes. The EPA has made it a priority to get it out of every system just to keep that exposure down.”
Curtis concluded with opening the floor for questions and was asked about the bridge approach project. He answered that the project is “dead” as far as he knows and added: “What I know of it was Hwy 69 was going to relocate and be a straight shot from the bridge approach and cut in on 60 at Old Hartford Road, is where it was tying in. Seven or eight years ago they allocated money for it. We did the utility design and then the governors switched and the funds got pulled. It got killed when Governor Bevin came in. He pulled all of the funding out of it. Since then there hasn’t been a thing done.”
Mayor McCormick added to the conversation about the bridge approach that he had met with Suzanne Miles (KY State Representative) and Joanna Shake (Assoc. Director of GRADD) earlier in the day on Tuesday, January 10th. “She said there was, possibly, another project they’re looking at on that,” he said. He gave them Curtis’s email address when he met with them and told Curtis that she would be forwarding information to him on that, as to whether they are on a 6-year plan on re-starting that project or where they are on that currently.
Curtis said he had already procured easements for the project when the funding was pulled. “We didn’t even know that the funding got pulled until we tried to draw down money to pay for the easements and then we were told that the money was re-allocated, it’s gone. We had to go around voiding the easements and giving them back to the residents.”
He was also asked if the reconstruction of the water main replacement would occur within the current easements. He replied, “It’s within state highway; the right of way.”
A question was asked about the homeowner lines and if a notice would be received for that to be corrected. Curtis replied, “My understanding is, public funds can’t be used beyond the meter, generally for funding reasons. The federal rule doesn’t care; they want it done. In KY so far there have been 3 utilities that’ve been really out front – Louisville Waters is one, BGMU in Bowling Green and (another one in KY). They’re going all the way from a foot to where the plumbing enters the house but you’ve got to have funds to pay for that. There is funding out there – about 45 million in the next 5 years is supposed to be there for lead and copper in KY. That’s Kentucky’s portion and that was part of the bi-partisan infrastructure bill. The tricky part is – is if we know that it’s lead, the responsibility of Hawesville is to notify the residents and say, ‘We believe that you have lead in your service line or galvanized line and it needs to be replaced.’ But to go into someone’s home and see what the plumbing is…I don’t know where that ends. A lot of people are trying to get direction from the state and the EPA of where that liability stops.”
Hawesville Fire Chief’s Report
Hawesville Fire Chief Shane “Fish” Richards gave his report. “We totaled out at 39 runs for the month of December. EMS runs are still the highest calls we make. We totaled out with 399 runs for the year,” Richards said. “We’ve broken that down, if any of you follow our Facebook page, there’s a breakdown there of where those are at. Outside of EMS calls, our highest number of runs were for good intent calls, controlled burns, etc. With 399 runs for the year, that’s the most we’ve had in several, several years.
A couple of things going on departmental wise, one of them that came up in December was our structural fire on Harrison Street. I want to take the time to thank the residents of that area. Some of the citizens came out and helped us and were more than generous. They brought out coffee to the guys. Coming out of that on our side- we’ve had a couple of pieces of equipment that we’ve had to do some work on. We ended up freezing up some gages on some engines, etc. We’re in the process of replacing those and getting them all back up and running perfect. They all do operate at this time even with the gages not working but we’re replacing some stuff right now on that.
We applied for the AFG grant for our brush truck. We got the email back about a month ago. We were denied for our grant. We are working right now with the department on our vehicle committee to come up with plan b on how we’re going to replace our brush truck. It will unfortunately be several months before we get the explanation of why we didn’t get it.
We’ve got 3 grants in right now with the fire commission for some equipment replacements. Four gas meter which will detect oxygen levels, combustible gas, etc. for what you would see for a carbon monoxide alarm – there’s a grant we applied for to get those replaced. We’re replacing our AEDs – our Automatic External Defibrillators on our engines – there’s a fire commission grant we’ve put in for that. The last one is for extrication tools similar to the ones we got on our grant last year on our battery operated tools. The fire commission has put some money toward that – they’re wanting to get more of those out there. We’re waiting to hear back on those three.
We have 2 juniors, within the last two weeks, that have completed their skills test and their chiefs tests to where they are fully able to make runs with us. That takes us up to 4. Our junior program is ages 14-16. They basically go through the training just like we do. Once they get checked out they can make runs with us. They’re a lot more restricted than what we are. They cannot do all of the stuff we do but that gives us 4 juniors now that are capable of making runs with us – to assist on the day in and day out that we do.”
Mayor McCormick announced, “I’ve talked to Councilman Herndon and after tax season he’s agreed to sit on one of your meetings during the month where we can be ahead of the game possibly and discuss some of your needs before you have to come to a meeting and present. He’s agreed to do that and I agreed that I would cover it between now and then unless somebody else would like to on this council. Any council members who’d like to step up and attend those meetings through April (can do that).”
The business meetings are on the first Mondays and the third Mondays. “Our tax service – we go 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Mondays at the Career Center. I’m still doing classes now, starting the last of this month,” Herndon said.
McCormick concluded with: “We will be having an open forum every meeting. We will be putting that in the Clarion. We will be putting old business, new business and a date for the council meeting and then open forum and we’ll have the public open to come and that way they’ll know going into Tuesday night if the old business is something they want to hear about, etc. If the new business is something they want to discuss they can read that.”
He then opened the floor for questions and it was stated that the cross when you’re coming across the bridge and you see it lit up on the hill – is “very pretty” to behold and asked who’s responsibility it is to maintain that, the city’s or the county’s? McCormick replied, “I need to look into that. I can’t answer that correctly without…Let me do some digging and I’ll most definitely get back to you in a timely manner.”
Chief of Police Harold Parente fired by McCormick – Cody Axton hired for position
McCormick said that he fired the Hawesville Chief of Police Harold Parente, “since the first day I took office at 8 o’clock in the morning this past week. Kentucky is an at-will state and since I came in as a new administrator, I chose to use that at-will. I’ve been advised to not comment on why. We’ve already been interviewing (for a new chief of police) for the last month, even prior to the election because we anticipated some change. We have actually hired an individual that will be taking his POPS (physical fitness) test the 23rd of this month and he will be then available to drive in patrol. He will be going to the academy after that as soon as we can get him in. There is a lot of paperwork we have to do. It’s Mr. Cody Axton. He lives in Hawesville. He is a resident. He grew up here and he’s never left the county.”
By Jennifer Wimmer