Two business owners face off with planning board over deals
In May 8-14 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
JAMESTOWN - Though there was good news for progress on the Russell County Judicial Center at Monday's board meeting there was also controversy as one business owner complained of eviction and another complained of bad treatment by the board.
Mike Syphax, the surveyor awarded the bid to survey the new building told the court that as he was proceeding he came across survey markers from another firm
After some intense give and take Vance Mitchell with the Administrative Office of the Courts said he put another bidder on the job because Syphax was not getting the work done quickly enough.
Syphax said he had been waiting on a contract though he had already begun some of the work on the project. He said he had brought the contract by the office of the county judge executive but had not received it back signed.
Mitchell said that contract came a month after they should have started work and that his request for half of the money in advance was not acceptable. He told the surveyor that he wasn't aware of whether or not the judge had communicated all of this to him but that he had the authority to appoint another to do the work.
Syphax said he would have addressed that issue if it had been mentioned to him and eventually took his seat after being assured he would be paid for the work he had done.
That however was not the end of the matter as Cindy Syphax stood at the close of the meeting and asked Mitchell and Mickey Garner why they felt it was okay to replace her husband.
She energetically questioned the two men on why they had not said anything to her husband about having a problem with paying half of the fee in advance and why the whole process was plagued with either a lack of communication or miscommunication.
Her talk with one of the board members, Circuit Clerk Tony Kerr became more energetic after the meeting as she raised her voice. "Get your hand… Get your hand out of my face," could be heard clearly over the din of people.
Kerr replied "Don't hit me."
Shortly thereafter the sound of a book hitting something could be heard and the two were separated by members of the board.
According to those who could see the incident Syphax had slapped Kerr's hand away from in front of her with a notebook of some sort. Nothing further came of that incident, and nothing was resolved in an earlier incident.
Margaret "Peggy" Gorbandt, a business owner occupying one of the buildings to be flattened for the new judicial center approached the board asking for money to defray the cost of moving her business.
She said she had invested $8,500 in that location, which she said she would not done if County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner had told her that there was a possibility of that building being taken in by the new judicial center when she had asked him.
Garner clarified that he had said, "Not that I know of."
Vance Mitchell, with the Administrative Office of the Courts which oversees the construction of the judicial center explained that there is no precedent for such payment and there is nothing in the budget for relocating a business.
"You've put me in a bind," Gorbandt said.
Garner offered her jail inmates to help them move out, but she flatly refused.
In more convivial discussions there was progress on the land deals. The board charged with locating the new Judicial Center was told this week that they have received signed contracts from nearly all the property owners and they have verbal agreements with the others.
County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner, who serves as the chair of the Russell County Property Development Board told the members that Ward Correll had agreed to sell the Linda's Diner, but the contract has not been returned yet.
The owner of the old float shop beside Linda's has agreed to the sale, but Garner said that June Francois had broken both her arms and couldn't sign the contract at the present.
"The rest of them have signed theirs," Garner told the board.
The total cost so far for land acquisition is over $587,000, while the budget for land was just over $538,000.
Even given that overrun the representative for the Administrative Office of the Courts, Vance Mitchell, told the board to proceed with trying to get a contract for $5,000 worth of land from Duo County Telephone.
The architect presented the general floor plan of the planned courts' building to the board, asking for input individually from the judges and clerk regarding the layout of the rooms.
The board agreed and set a May 19 meeting to address changes before finalizing things the first week in June. Mike Carroll said the reason for the push was that the plans had to be ready for submission to Frankfort by the middle of June.
The board will meet again this month and then again on the first Monday of next month.
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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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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