Recent efforts by two Leitchfield city council members to clean up a dilapidated property could lead to a citywide volunteer effort.
Last month, council member Steven Elder prompted a discussion about overgrown, ill-maintained properties after pointing out neighbors’ complaints about 512 Hilltop Road. One neighbor had even started a Facebook page about that property, which had a tangle of weeds and brush growing wild in the yard.
A few days later, on Sept. 23, Elder and council member Billy Dallas volunteered their time and labor to clear up much of the front yard; Elder returned about a week later to clear some of the back yard.
That prompted a local woman, Ann Huff, to write a letter to the editor that appeared in the News-Gazette, accusing the men of having purely political motives and criticizing Elder for not spending time with his family. That in turn prompted letters defending Elder, and a series of heated exchanges between Huff, Mayor William Thomason and Elder during the Monday, Oct. 1, city council meeting.
Elder said that as he’d worked at the Hilltop Road property he’d thought it would be a nice project for the city council to do service projects. That garnered support from other council members, who started discussing what they could do and when.
Council member Margaret Alvey-Fey suggested broadening the volunteer workforce to include retirees and others. After some discussion, the council asked Public Works Director Darrell Harrell to develop a list of possible project. Anyone wanting to volunteer can call city hall at 259-4034 or talk to a city council member.
In other action the council:
* Approved spending $8,750 to buy a speed monitor device from MPH Industries in Owensboro. The solar powered, trailer-mounted radar device can be positioned along various city streets for up to a week at a time. It includes a digital display and lights to remind drivers how fast they are going, and includes computer software that will allow the police department to track traffic patterns.
* Approved a request by Cub Scout Pack 135 to perform a service project, mulching around the memorial at James Beville Community Park, and to camp overnight at the park Oct. 20-21.
* Approved buying lights from the Blackrock ATV course for use in repairing or replacing lights at the city’s ball fields.
* Learned the new signs for the Fishing in Neighborhoods, or FINS, program at the James D. Beville Park pond should be in place later this month.
Leitchfield will become the 36th community in the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources program designed to promote fishing in urban areas. FINS started in 2006 to create “quality fishing opportunities near cities of all sizes throughout the state,” especially targeting families and young anglers to give them places to fish “without the need to travel long distances.”
Harrell shared copies of emails he’d exchanged with KDFWR personnel about the program. According to the emails, signs for the program should be available in a couple of weeks, and announcements will be made about the new fish stockings.
Leitchfield will be responsible for 25 percent of the program’s cost, which Harrell has said can include mowing around the pond, trash cleanup and installing and maintaining restrooms — most of which Leitchfield is already doing.
KDFWR will be responsible for stocking the pond with “keeper size” channel catfish and rainbow trout — 12- to 15-inch long catfish, and 9- to 12-inch trout. More than 3,000 fish would be added to the pond throughout the year, with fish added every couple of months to “provide anglers an excellent opportunity to catch fish,” according to a letter from the agency.
Fishing regulations at FINS lakes and ponds are a little more restrictive than the statewide regulations, in part to spread out the fishing harvest over a longer period of time to give more people the chance to fish. For example, anglers would be limited to four catfish, 15 bluegill or other sunfish, five trout and one bass daily at a FINS pond. Anglers will also need a license to fish at the Beville pond.