In May 14 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
The simmering dispute between County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner and Magistrate Greg Popplewell came briefly to the surface at this week's fiscal court meeting, and Jamestown was criticized by members of the court.
Garner raised an issue which Popplewell had said two years ago was laid as a trap for him.
"What is the one road you did pave," Garner asked.
Popplewell said that a road in the subdivision where he lives was the one road that was paved that year, and it was paved because Garner asked that it be.
"You sent that road in," Popplewell said.
The magistrate said he had submitted seven roads through the judge's office for paving that year, but Garner "threw out" that list and submitted only one road to the state.
Popplewell said he had personally called the office in Frankfort and verified that the list of roads he'd requested were not submitted.
Popplewell asked the court for what he called a "fair" way of dividing up road construction and repair money amongst the county's magisterial districts.
He pointed out that, based on the milage in districts, budgeted spending ranges between $179 per mile and $535 per mile in the five districts.
He also took issue with a letter to the editor from Garner that was published last week. In that letter Garner contended that Popplewell had never asked for road work.
Popplewell presented his phone records to the press, showing the calls he'd made to the judge's office, the road barn, and both cell phones belonging to the top men at the road barn.
In the end the only motion from Popplewell to pass was one asking that two workers from among those at the road barn and recycling building be tested on a ten-panel drug test twice a month.
Previously the road maintance staff had been tested for fewer drugs, once a month.
Jamestown gained the ire of the court's members after they were told that the county was being asked to pay $650 a month toward supporting the Russell County Senior Citizens' Center.
They were told by Garner that Russell Springs was paying $1,000, the Lake Cumberland Area Development District would be paying $650, and the salary of the director, but that Jamestown's Mayor Brooks Bates had refused to contribute to the operation of the facility.
For his part Bates said in a phone interview Tuesday that the city has donated to pave the parking lot in the past, but that the operation was a county program, not a Jamestown program.
When it was suggested, as it was in the meeting, that Jamestown residents use the facility, Bates responded, "they pay taxes to the county too."
He added that Russell Springs owns the building the senior center is located, and so has a stake in its continued operation.
During the presentation Garner did no answer magistrates' questions as to why the Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency, which had been operating the center, had withdrawn.
The bulk of the meeting Monday night though was taken up with discussion of a new county jail.
Staff from Bransdstetter Carroll, the firm contracted to design the new jail, presented drawings of the present plans.
The plans have gone from 17,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet for the 85 bed facility, and a second building was added to the plan to hold class-D felony offenders.
Previously that duty was going to fall to the present jail, but Garner said he'd prefer to see the old jail torn down, for parking on the square.
Cost estimates from Branscum Construction, which has been hired as the county's construction management firm on the project, came in at $4.7 million for erection of the jail building, and another $405,000 for the second building, plus other costs.
The total bond estimate, which was back-calculated to cost the county no more than it had been spending to house local prisoners in other counties had been estimated at $4.7 million for the whole project.
Garner told the magistrates that he has been told the bond market trends could allow the county to go over $5 million in debt for the jail with the same payments.
Garner stressed to the architects that they need fast approval of the preliminary plans to get the project underway.