Utility Commission looks to join multi-city energy agency

John Sizemore webCity resident publicly apologizes to mayor

By David Stewart

For the Mountain Advocate

Barbourville City Council heard the first reading of Ordinance No. 2015-5, Series 2015, which would allow the Barbourville Utility Commission to join the KMEA (Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency).

“This is a good deal,” Josh Callahan told the council. “Our city will unite with at least 10 other cities and, when our contract with Kentucky Utilities ends (in 2019), we will have more buying power. Currently, Barbourville City purchases only 15 megawatts of power. Our combining with these other cities will give us leverage as if we were purchasing 500 megawatts of power. This will help us negotiate a better rate.”

Mayor David Thompson asked, “Sort of like Sam’s Club? We buy in bulk and get a better deal?”

Callihan responded, “Exactly!”

Mayor Thompson asked the council to consider adding the small white chapel (located near the water park) to the city’s surplus property. Thompson and City Street Superintendent, Robbie Cobb provided a verbal list of necessary repairs in order for the chapel to remain usable and safe. “The roof needs to be repaired or replaced (nine years ago the chapel had a new roof installed). The entire outside of the building needs repainted. The building lacks heating and air conditioning.”

A second reading of the ordinance will be held at a special called meeting at noon, Monday, June 8.

Helen Strong (city clerk) was asked when the last wedding had been held using the chapel.

“One that I can remember within the last two years,” she replied.

The council voted to run an ad in the Barbourville Advocate and see if anyone wished to purchase the Chapel or see if any civic groups wanted to take on the task of repairing it. Everyone on the council was against any form of demolition of the chapel.

Berlin Goins, who works with at risk troubled youth that live in the city and county, brought information to the board that Gina Sears had obtained a grant through the school system to provide funding to purchase treated lumber, along with outdoor hardware and fasteners. Goins was working with the youth constructing outdoor park benches, and he was at the meeting to offer approximately 20 of the benches to city. He said they would be great to place around the brickyard ponds and at Thompson Park. The council immediately thanked Goins and the kids for their donation. Robbie Cobb will help determine some placement locations.

Mayor Thompson spoke highly of the Barbourville Woman’s Club. “These women purchased 1,000 plants for the city, everything from Japanese maples, trailing lavender, knockout roses and many others. These ladies not only paid for the greenery, they helped plant and water them.”

Board Member Ronnie Moore said, “This is a very large donation. I hope these ladies know how much our city appreciates them.”

As the meeting was ending, local pastor, John Sizemore, asked to read a letter to the mayor.

“You know, Mayor, what happened to you when you were asked to step down as mayor was a bad thing. I believe the community righted that wrong by re-electing you. What I have not heard the community do is apologize for its mistake. I am here today to apologize for the city.”

Wilma Barnes, Council member, said, “I don’t feel the need to apologize for anything we did. I love David (Mayor Thompson) and I would do anything for him. But whatever we did, we did based on what we thought were facts being presented to us. I think anyone that saw what we were told was factual evidence, would have done the same thing.”

Sherman Lawson, Council member, added, “I just wish people would stop stirring the pot. If you put a bunch of dirty baby diapers in a pot and stir them, the stink will get worse. I was a police officer in this area for 28 years, and the evidence we were presented caused us to do what we did. It was certainly nothing personal. I intend to move forward and do what is right for the city. We have great departments (fire, police, utilities… all of them). I intend to support them. People need to turn off the clothes washer and stop bringing these things up.”

Ronnie Moore looked at Sizemore and demanded a yes or no answer to his question, “Did you bring any unity today?” When no answer was given, he asked again, “Did you bring any unity today to the city and this council?” When a yes or no was not given the second time, Moore called for the meeting to be adjourned. As the meeting ended, Moore and Sizemore were still in discussions as they left the building.

The council is scheduled for a special called meeting for noon, Monday, June 8, at which time the council members will make a decision on the 2015-16 budget and approving the Utility Commission to join the KEMA.