Council, Utilities talk communication, utility cuts

By Matt Lasley -

Five of the six members of the Leitchfield City Council attended the Thursday, Aug. 20 Leitchfield Utilities Commission meeting to express their concerns regarding the utilities and to improve communication between the two bodies.

City Councilmember Harold Miller opened the discussion and said he wants to create a dialogue between the two bodies because, in the time he’s been on the City Council, there has been little or no communication between the Council and Utilities Commission.

“I feel a personal responsibility, as an elected official, as a public servant, to know what’s going on,” said Miller, explaining that the citizens of Leitchfield often consider the City of Leitchfield and Leitchfield Utilities to be one body and will call City Councilmembers regarding issues with utilities.

“Communication is never bad, especially as public servants,” said Miller, suggesting that the two bodies might meet a couple of times per year or once a quarter in the future.

The primary utilities complaint the City Councilmembers have heard from their constituents regards the utility cuts on city roads, which, multiple City Councilmembers said, are not repaired satisfactorily or permanently.

Pictures of utility cuts throughout the city were submitted for review by the Utilities Commission to show the need for their repair.

City Councilmember Raymond “Tooty” Cottrell said there are utility cuts “all over town,” that, despite being repaired once, sink and must be repaired again.

City Councilmembers also questioned the fairness of the City of Leitchfield’s paying for half the cost of repairing a utility cut, as well as going back and fixing the repair after the cut has sunken down again.

However, Utilities Chairman Robert Crawford said he questioned whether the city was actually paying for half the cost of the repairs.

Mayor William Thomason, who also serves on the Utilities Commission, said the city was not, in fact, paying for half the cost of repairing utility cuts.

The City Councilmembers in attendance said they have been told for years that this was the case.

“I’ve never heard, ‘No you’re not,’ until right now,” City Councilmember William Dallas said.

In regards to the utility cuts, Leitchfield Utilities Superintendent Dwight Embry said that, as a citizen of Leitchfield himself, the utility cuts are “embarrassing,” and that Leitchfield Utilities has done “a terrible job” of repairing them.

However, Embry said, the utilities have adopted a policy that they will repair utility cuts up to state highway standards, using a “flowable” fill, which is expected to repair the cuts more effectively.

“We’re going to start doing a better job patching the roads,” Embry said.

Embry said currently the utilities are “stretched pretty thin” regarding manpower with a project in Breckinridge County, as well as typical utilities work and maintenance; however, he will personally review the photos of utility cuts to determine which require the most immediate repair.

Additionally, Embry said that, in the future, any time the City Councilmembers have an issue, they are more than welcome to call or visit him.

In other business:

*Crawford addressed the issue of the water leak at Dr. Gay Fulkerson’s business.

Crawford said utilities workers had visited the location on Tuesday, Aug. 18 and found no running water flowing through its catch basin at the time; however, the utilities will continue to search for the leak affecting Fulkerson’s property.

“We’ll continue to monitor it,” said Crawford, adding that the utilities cannot guarantee when the leak will be found.

*Crawford said he and Embry had met with Grayson County Water District Manager Kevin Shaw and Grayson County Water District Chairman John Tomes regarding the capital improvements that will be made at the Water Treatment Plant.

The committee will draft a request for proposals for the project, and anyone who has worked for either the Leitchfield Utilities or Grayson County Water District within the last five years will be precluded from working on the project, Crawford said.

Additionally, the entity who works on the project will be precluded from working on a project for either the Leitchfield Utilities or the Grayson County Water District, Crawford said.

By Matt Lasley

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.

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