In Apr. 17-23 issue By Derek Aaron Times Journal Reporter
RUSSELL SPRINGS - Before going into city business at Thursday's meeting of the City Commission, Mayor Hollis DeHart briefed the members and those in attendance on the right citizens have to attend public meetings, and how far they can go while in attendance.
"Every citizen of this town has a constitutional right to come to meetings and tell us what's on their mind," DeHart said. "That's what makes democracy work."
He said citizens had the right to examine city records, obtain copies of those records and minutes of any meeting in the city. Those include zoning, ethics and board of adjustment as well as any other meetings that may take place.
He said any citizen could come in and file a grievance procedure against any employee of the city, any commissioner or even himself.
"If someone desires to do that, we'll even tell them how to do it and what the procedures are," he said. "However, a citizen may not come in here and disrupt the business end of these meetings by being boisterous, abusive or presumptive."
DeHart said citizens who speak at meetings should be careful not to make "wild accusations against employees."
He said if anyone has proof that a city employee has broken the law by disregarding ethical performance or even been discourteous, they must report it to him or file a grievance through the office of the city clerk.
"I will investigate it and personally give that individual a written report," he said. "If that employee is found guilty, they have to suffer the consequences.
DeHart's statement was in response to Russell Springs' citizen Lillard Pettyjohn and his verbal mêlée during March's meeting when Pettyjohn attempted to question Police Chief Joseph M. Irvin.
In other happenings at the meeting—
• DeHart said he was approached by Judge-Executive Mickey Garner about the possibility of the city helping to pay a monthly fee around $500 for the county dog warden and upkeep of the Green River Animal Shelter in Columbia, where the warden takes the county's stray dogs and cats.
DeHart said the county was spending about $28,000 a year for upkeep on the shelter and paying the warden a $400 monthly salary.
Under Kentucky statutes, cities can partner with county leaders to help with animal control in their defined area. DeHart said the Fiscal Court had the authority to bypass the city and not pick up stray animals in the city, if they so choose. Garner has stated the cities may have to hire their own dog warden if they choose not to partner with the Fiscal Court on this endeavor.
DeHart said Garner had also asked the Jamestown City Council for monetary help also, but did not know of Jamestown's intentions. The commission collectively decided to put the issue in abeyance and discuss it at a later time.
• The commission passed a 3 percent city employee pay raise across the board after several minutes of discussion. The pay raise was already built into the current budget but had not been awarded this fiscal year, according to DeHart. The mayor said the national cost of living index had been announced earlier this year just over 4 percent.
• The commission discussed the $2.2 million project of laying nearly 20 miles of sewer lines toward the Alligator I and II portion of the county. The mayor said between 40 and 50 homes already wanted to sign up for the new service in that area.
Public Works Director Terry Russell the major sewer line extension project is nearing completion and only a couple more weeks of work should be needed, weather permitting.
Russell recommended Leslie Simpson as a new city worker with water and sewer and the council voted to make Simpson an employee.
• Parks Commissioner Ray Barrett recommended James Scott Redmond for a part-time position helping with the upkeep of the City Park as well as Joseph Trevor Barnes as a seasonal employee, from April 1 to September 1, of the city. Both Redmond and Barnes were hired by the commission for their respective jobs.
• The city purchased a new John Deere tractor and Batwing mower from a supplier in Bowling Green for more than $40,000. DeHart and Barrett both expressed how much the tractor and mower was needed to get the city and park cleaned up.
• In his report, Commissioner Timmy Hudson said he and city employee Ronnie Jackson would voluntarily help to clean up the yards or otherwise of elderly or disabled people who couldn't make it out and do it on their own on Saturdays in the coming weeks.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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120 Wilson St.
Russell Springs KY 42642
Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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Jamestown KY 42629