City Council recognizes community effort

Ruth “Anna” Hart spoke to the City Council on her deplorable living conditions.
Ruth “Anna” Hart spoke to the City Council on her deplorable
living conditions.

By David Stewart

For the Mountain Advocate

Barbourville City Council has agreed to allow Union College to use up to $5 million of its bonding ability to consolidate some older loans and perform remodeling improvements. The city will not be on the hook for any of the funds.

At March’s meeting, the budget for the city was approved at $4,739,916, and the new federally mandated flood plane was accepted.

Josh Callihan, public utility commission and Mayor David Thompson thanked “all service people because they worked very long hard hours in way below freezing temperatures.”

Callihan said, “Everyone pitched in, from the service people, state and county road workers, our magistrate in District 4, civilians, those with 4-wheelers, tractors, or 4-wheel drives, etc…”

The mayor added, “As a town, I couldn’t be more proud of the way we all pulled together. People just called the office and volunteered to do whatever was needed.”

Council members listened intently as Ruth “Anna” Hart, a Union College student, spoke about living a renter’s nightmare.

“I have gone from having a place with a year-long paid lease to basically being homeless,” she said. “No heat, seven space heaters, broken windows and bare wires.

“I hope to get my money back, but I am very happy to have friends that are allowing me to live with them. What concerns me, is that this city does not have a way for a renter to report problems. I became frustrated when I tried to report very real safety hazards inside my building. Everyone I talked to (in city and county government) listened to me, but no one was able to help me specifically. I finally ended up talking to the State Attorney General’s office and the State Fire Marshall in Frankfort.”

Mayor Thompson said, “We do want to help you, and I am glad that we took the calls. However, our small town is very limited in what we can do. We do not have a certified building inspector, due to liabilities the city could have, based on an inspection. However, if you will come to my office at the first of next week, I am sure we can find a few more answers.”

All of the council showed concern for Hart’s plight and vowed to start looking for ways to eliminate her concerns for future renters and Union students.

Wilma Barnes, board member, told Hart,” I have three daughters of my own. If they had a problem like yours, I would certainly want someone to help them.”