Years of neglect hits home
By PJ Martin
The Metcalfe County fiscal court met on Tuesday, April 11th with a lengthy list on the agenda.
Much of the meeting was comprised of radio tower repairs, FEMA claims, and the age-old audit issue. All in attendance agreed that both of these subjects go back many administrations.
Emergency Management Director Emory Kidd presented a quote for radio tower repairs. The main site began having issues in November of 2022 and is now not working. The radio tower is needed by the police dept., fire department, and weather service.
Kidd asked for quotes and after an evaluation of the radio system and the three towers, he received a quote of $48,000. Kidd then asked for quotes for each individual site.
“The quote to get the main tower site up and running which is going to include coaxes, antennas, basically this site was put up in ’06 or ’08 and its had a couple of lightning strikes and we’ve always repaired it. But it’s getting to the point that we’re gonna have to start replacing a lot of the hardware, so we’re looking at $16,383 for that site which is Greensburg Road the main tower site,” explained Kidd. The quotes are by Betner Communication LLC.
Sheriff Lonnie Hodges posed this question, “Are there things that we have paid for from the install of this equipment that we have not received and if so, can some sort of action be taken against that contractor?”
Kidd replied that the company that originally did the work has filed for bankruptcy and that he could pull those records out to review. Sheriff Hodges stated, “It seems for the money that we’ve invested in this, we should have a state-of-the-art radio system.”
Kidd agreed with Hodges and then explained that the Summer Shade tower received lightning strikes and he intends to submit an insurance claim on it before any work can be done.
After much discussion, the quoted repair was approved by a vote of 3-1 with the nay being magistrate Daniel Bragg who said he felt as if “money is just being thrown at the problem.”
Next, EMS Director Kidd presented a summary of the FEMA claims which go back as early as 2015. The claims that were found to be incomplete total $396,835.01. Kidd along with other workers researched the missing data and added what was available to the claims. He has resubmitted them back to FEMA.
FEMA keeps meticulous data and requests GPS plus mile marker information for each. Some of those older claims have proven impossible to track down the exact data after all these years. Kidd is unsure if FEMA will approve them or not.
The initial basis of the whole FEMA issue is partially due to the purchase order (PO) system that has been used over the years. FEMA asks that work be done and then all the material and labor receipts be submitted with the other data to them, then FEMA reimburses. That is not what has been done in past years.
The prior audits have noted issues with the PO system that need changing, yet those changes have never been implemented. “Until the problems in that audit is fixed, we cannot release that money,” is the basic answer given by FEMA stated Gary Fancher Assistant Emergency Manager.
Judge/Executive Larry Wilson stated that he was going to call and talk to the auditor adding, “I’m sick of this mess…ever since I come in this has been going on…there were things, and I’m not going to point the finger at who or what. Things that I was told was taken care of that I’ve made calls on. That wasn’t took care of…this has gotta be fixed. I hate to think what it’s gonna take, but we’ve gotta fix it.”
“It’s put us at a standstill and it’s gonna be fixed,” exclaimed Wilson adding, “I’m gonna start making phone calls.”
Bill Kindred has asked if the old Randolph voting house property (approximately a quarter acre) could be deeded back to him by the county. Kidd noted that the reason that it was deeded over to the county was for grant application purposes. The grant was to build four more safe rooms (tornado shelters) with one located at the Randolph location.
The last administration we decided to hold off on the grants, explained Kidd, but, “If that grant comes through, we’ll have to have a place to locate it. And it could delay everything if we start moving stuff around.”
Magistrate Bragg asked if the grant process had been started to which Kidd replied, “I was told not to. But yes it is in Frankfort, it was awarded, and it was put on hold….it is still active. Every time they get money available, it pops up to be looked at.”
The court decided to appoint magistrates Daniel Bragg and Harvey Hawkins to talk to Bill Kindred and explain the situation. The subject is being held over to the next meeting.
Prior to the meeting, a public hearing was held for citizens to voice their concerns about the closure of 385 feet at the end of Fred Ray Road. There were no complaints verbal or written so the meeting was closed. The Resolution to remove the 385-foot portion of Fred Ray Road from the county road list was unanimously approved.
The County Road Aid Cooperative Program Agreement and Resolution with the Transportation Cabinet, and Dept. of Rural and Municipal; Aid for the construction and maintenance of county roads and bridges was approved. The funds for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023, are $1,023,855.37. This amount is down from last year.
The budget/inter-fund transfers and claims were heard and approved. Also, the road dept. report and the recycling center reports were presented for review.