Fiscal court looks at fund to help Jonathan Creek Water - photo 1

Jonathan Creek Water Board Chair Jeff O’Bryan (standing) addresses the Marshall County Fiscal Court last week about projects needed for the district. Listening is water district superintendent David Lovett (seated).

With approximately $1.3 million in severely needed water projects in the Jonathan Creek District, the Marshall County Fiscal Court authorized Judge-Executive Kevin Neal to examine how to obtain some $500,000 for line repairs, replacements and upgrades.

The authorization came at last week’s court meeting with the motion, made by District 1 Commissioner Justin Lamb, garnering unanimous approval based upon the petition from Jeff O’Bryan, chairman of the Jonathan Creek Water District. O’Bryan said the requests are to expand water within the county, particularly in the Brewers area, for those in need and to establish loops in the system to keep water pressure going.

He said the system is already hooked into North Marshall and they are looking to also hook into Hardin, which might allow them to hook into Benton, to allow emergency access to water.

“If (Hardin has) a problem, they’re a customer of Benton, if they were to need water, we have a meter, just turn the valve and they have water,” he told the fiscal court members. “We’d like to do that with Benton and hook plumb around off 58 highway. It could be five years down the road, but it would keep the water system tied together.”

O’Bryan said the district has 2,500 customers and the potential for 100-200 new customers.

With 50-plus year-old water lines that “pop every few days,” he said it would be cheaper to replace those lines than repair them.

“It’s tons of small leaks that add up to a lot of volume over time,” he added. “We’re doing our best to find them and fix them where we can.”

Neal said the court had set aside $500,000 for Jonathan Creek water projects. The county also has just under $800,000 from bond money related to a sewer expansion project in Draffenville and awarded grant money that could be used if approved.

O’Bryan said costs can fluctuate. To District 2 Commissioner Kevin Spraggs’ question on work bids, O’Bryan said most of the work can be done “in house.”

“Some, we’d have to have outside help,” he explained. “We might bid out some labor to do some things we can’t do.”

Lamb credited the Jonathan Creek Water District and crews for their work on Slickback Road’s current water project.

“There’s nothing more important than getting water to the people in this county,” he said.

A public hearing was also set for Aug. 4 to hear comments on the county removing a portion of Oak Level Cemetery Road from the county’s road maintenance system. This was following a request by Oak Level United Methodist Church leadership to blacktop the county road that runs through church property from Wadesboro Road to Arant Road.

Neal noted minutes from 2012 stated the county had accepted all cemetery roads into the county’s road maintenance system, adding he felt the intent was to provide access to the cemeteries. As some churches have grown, the county road can end up through or near church property.

“In some cases, if the county wanted to maintain a county road and if they take heavy equipment back there, it could damage the parking lot,” he said.

Neal contacted Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 personnel who suggested setting up an agreement between the county and church for road maintenance. The proposal would be that Marshall County Road Department would maintain the section from Arant Road to Oak Level Cemetery Road’s curve with the remaining roadway toward the church buildings and connecting to Wadesboro Road being the church’s responsibility.

Commissioners voted to have County Attorney Jason Darnall draft an agreement, as well as to remove the section of Oak Level Cemetery Road from the county’s maintenance.

The public hearing will be at 10 a.m. People may also send written comments to the judge-executive’s office at 1101 Main St. in Benton.

Commissioners also heard personnel changes for June and a report on Southwest One, which Neal included workers had hit “some soft soil” which prompted additional work estimated around $31,000.

They also approved the facility and grounds policy for the county. District 3 Commissioner Monti Collins asked if event signage placed at the park that might include sponsorships would have to be cleared by the court before placement. The policy establishes Parks Director Britney Heath as an agent of the county to approve signs and displays, but she could also seek input from the fiscal court.

“I think this is a good faith attempt to put something into place without getting into tying up somebody’s hands,” Neal said.

Collins also noted the policy related to permitted activities must remain 25 feet from all public entrances to county facilities or grounds is just to not block or hinder access and not to prohibit peaceful protests or rallies.

“The right to assemble is not being infringed here,” the judge-executive added.

The court tabled new business regarding a pay increase for county clerk personnel; approved the second reading of Ordinance 2020-06 Administrative Code; approved E-911 hire; 2019 sheriff’s annual settlement; and bill payments.