Food pantry in need of help

Council members learned at the February 8 City Council meeting that the Christian Life Fellowship Food Pantry is in need of help, specifically with their electric bill for an outside freezer.

The freezer is a new addition to the food pantry, built in the last year. It holds 16 pallets and helps the pantry keep food stocked to feed 1,161 Knox County families each month, a number pantry coordinator Paul Calhoun says is only growing by the day.

Although the freezer is instrumental to operations, it has placed a burden on the food pantry, namely the amount of electricity needed to maintain the cold temperatures inside. Since the pantry relies solely on donations, Calhoun asked council members to work on a solution to donate electricity just for the freezer, which is on its own meter.

“My main reason for being here is, since we built the freezer, it started out with a high electrical service going into it. I’ve got it modified down to where it’s running right at about $270 to maintain each month,” said Calhoun. “What I’m asking is for the city to pay the electric bill year-round for the freezer.”

Councilman Jeremy Hicks jumped at the opportunity to help the pantry, citing he will be in contact with officials to see what the city can do and work on getting donations.

“We’ll need to check with our city attorney about the legality behind this, of what we’re allowed to do and not allowed to do,” said Hicks. “As far as donating electricity, I don’t believe we’re allowed to do that but we’d be glad to check with Chris [Mills, attorney] and find out for you…We’ll be more than happy to help you find more donations. I’d be more than glad to help you out with that.”

Mayor David Thompson also suggested Calhoun present the same issue before the judge-executive and Fiscal Court. For now, the issue has been tabled while the council and mayor look into available options to fix the problem.

Also on the agenda, one big change was made to Municipal Order No. 2018-1, the city’s personnel policy. Originally, the city set a policy in the order stating “employees shall not leave the vehicle unattended without first stopping the motor, locking the ignition, removing the key, and locking the doors.” Council member Sherman Lawson brought up during the January meeting that this policy cannot be utilized for the police department’s K9 unit, citing the welfare of the dog. Therefore, that clause was removed from the order.

The council also unanimously set the mayor’s and their own salaries for the next year. No changes were made, keeping the mayor’s salary at $12,000 per year and council member’s salaries at $1,200 per year.