Lincoln County 2017 in review

Published 9:59 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 made for some interesting headlines in Lincoln County, as we reported on many trends, events, discussions and changes in the area. From the opioid crisis and crime to local ordinances and laws, we reported on many topics, such as Stanford becoming the first city in the state to pass a proclamation to include indigenous people in the celebration of Columbus Day and the annual march down Main Street in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. While there were many other important moments reported in 2017, here’s a look at some of the biggest stories in Lincoln County:

Lincoln Board of Health approves syringe exchange program 

The opioid crisis in Kentucky remains a priority for counties across the state, including Lincoln County. In January, the Lincoln County Fiscal Court gave the final approval needed to move forward with a syringe exchange aimed at protecting public health from diseases commonly spread through intravenous drug use such as HIV and Hepatitis C.

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After reviewing strategies of surrounding counties with exchanges in place, such as Boyle and Mercer Counties, the Lincoln County Board of Health moved forward with plans to implement an exchange. In August, the syringe exchange was officially opened and is currently offering services, including free HIV testing, a one-for-one clean needle exchange, and options for treatment at the Lincoln County Health Department.

The Lincoln County Syringe Exchange Program is located at the Lincoln County Health Department, 44 Health Way, Stanford. The program is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more details or questions, call the health department at (606) 365-3106.

School board approves new contract for health services 

In 2015, the Lincoln County School District was forced to reduce its nursing staff due to budget restraints, but thanks to a new partnership, the goal of ‘one nurse at every school’ was once again achieved.

The school board unanimously approved a contract with the Healthy Kids Clinic, which placed a full-time school nurse (LPN or RN) at all elementary schools, the middle school and high school.

The new partnership also provides at least one full-time nurse practitioner and LPN who will be available to see students and staff in the district, as well as one licensed clinical social worker to provide behavioral health services to students and two social worker positions.

Hustonville emergency services building plan 

After nearly two years of preparation, plans for the City of Hustonville’s new fire and emergency services building are still moving forward — though the design of the building has changed in the last year.

The city’s total budget for the project is about $850,000 but when project bids came in and the lowest bid was more than $1.3 million, plans for the new building were scaled back.

In early December, Hustonville Mayor David Peyton broke a tie vote in favor of accepting the single bid received by the city to handle the site preparation work required before beginning construction.

Stanford council pushes quick code enforcement reform 

May brought change for Stanford property owners as city council members approved an ordinance creating a new, three-person code enforcement board. The ordinance adopted Kentucky’s House Bill 422 (HB422) and penalties for violations.

Along with HB422, the city council adopted an ordinance to create the position of Code Enforcement Officer. The Code Enforcement Officer, currently Jeff Knouse, is responsible for citing property owners and carrying out the recommendations of the board.

The ordinance establishes procedure for warnings, violations, citations and appeals and removes the criminal penalty for nuisance violations and imposes a penalty of no less than $250 per violation and no more than $500 per violation.

The code enforcement officer first issues a letter to the property owner explaining the nuisance violations. The owner has seven days to bring the property up to code. If owners don’t comply, the code enforcement officer can write a citation, giving the owner seven more days before they have to go before the board.

The enforcement of business licenses is also part of the new code enforcement ordinance and gives code enforcement officers the authority to enforce penalties on businesses that fail to purchase a business license from the city.

On Aug. 14, the code enforcement board met for the first time.

911 fee on water meters valid, ky court rules 

After five years, the Kentucky Court of Appeals found a monthly fee imposed on water meters to fund Lincoln and Garrard counties’ 911 communication service is constitutional. The case originated in Garrard County where a “friendly lawsuit” was filed by the City of Lancaster to force the courts to determine the constitutionality of placing fees on water meters to fund 911 communications.

The court’s decision means relief for Lincoln County’s budget, County Attorney Daryl Day said, because it will free up thousands of dollars in the general fund that were being used to fund the Bluegrass 911 center while awaiting a final opinion on the fee.

Lincoln County had originally planned to begin the collection of the $4 water meter fee — which will be used to fund the regional Bluegrass 911 Communications dispatch center — Nov. 1. But, in order to allow water companies enough time to prepare administrative services required for the collection of the fees, the fiscal court approved an amended ordinance which made the effective date Jan. 1. In the original ordinance, water companies were to receive two percent of the fees collected. The amended ordinance allocates three percent to water companies.

According to the Dec. 21 edition of The Central Record, a new, unrelated lawsuit has been filed by the Garrard County Water Association (GCWA) in opposition to an ordinance passed by the Garrard County Fiscal Court in August implementing water-meter fees.

Lincoln County ambulance services consolidate 

After passing a large property tax rate increase in 2016, the Lincoln County Ambulance Board moved forward with plans to consolidate the county’s ambulance services under one name — Lincoln County EMS.

A final contract between the consolidated Lincoln County EMS service and the Lincoln County Ambulance Board was signed in November this year. On Nov. 15, Lincoln County EMS effectively took over operations of the Waynesburg Area Rescue Squad and on Jan. 1, 2018, operations of East End EMS in Crab Orchard merged under the Lincoln County EMS name.

Crab Orchard commissioner resigns, new commissioner sworn in

In August, Crab Orchard City Commissioner Keith Caudill resigned from his position. Caudill was elected in November of 2016 for a two-year term on the Crab Orchard City Commission. Due to conflicts with his work schedule and commute, Caudill resigned.

Commissioners were required to wait 30 days after accepting Caudill’s resignation before moving forward to replace him.

In September, City commissioners Jerry Shelton, Chris Sandlin and Juanita Pettit, along with Crab Orchard Mayor Billy Shelton voted to appoint Keith Saylor to replace Keith Caudill and serve the remainder of his term

Saylor was formally sworn in on Wednesday, Sept. 6.