By PJ Martin
The Metcalfe County fiscal court met on Tuesday, November 14th for their regular meeting with everyone in attendance.
The second reading was held for Ordinance No. 23-1010 approving the lease financing a project for the Metcalfe Health Care Center. The loan is to finance the repair and return to code of the sprinkler system at the facility. The lease is to be administered by Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo).
In discussion, a request was made by Magistrate Daniel Bragg to see the actual loan amount and the interest rate. Treasurer/Court Clerk Page Edwards retrieved the documents and stated that the loan is for 20 years at 5.05% interest. The amount of the loan is $498,000. The ordinance was approved.
Resolution No. 11-2023 for an interlocal cooperation agreement between the county and the Kentucky Association of Counties Interlocal Finance Corporation for the loan to MHCC was approved.
Judge/Executive Larry Wilson noted that when work began on the sprinkler system it uncovered far worse conditions of the lines and in the whole system; therefore, it is being replaced out of necessity to bring the system up to code.
Open Meetings and FEMA Workshop
The Metcalfe County fiscal court received several open meeting complaints regarding the September 28, 2023 special called meeting and another complaint regarding a recent non-public trip to Frankfort. The open meeting complaints were presented by an attorney on behalf of Jobe Publishing, Inc. and EHN Reporter Alyson Dix.
The initial open meeting complaint referred to the termination of Emergency Services Director Emory Kidd and the magistrates being allowed to hold an advisory vote during a closed session. The Kentucky Open Meetings Law states that all public business must be conducted in open session unless one of the exemptions in KRS 61.815 applies.
The new open meetings complaint refers to a ‘work session’ in Frankfort for public business concerning FEMA monies in which a quorum was present. The complaints state that to be legal the ‘work session’ should have been treated as a special meeting under KRS 61.823(3) with written notice of the special meeting date, time, and place.
In answer to these complaints, Judge Wilson began with, “First of all let me say, I will assume all responsibility for breaking the Open Records Law. But I am going to say in my defense, even though it’s not excusable, this year has been a learning experience for me and I am trying my best.”
“I had hoped we could work this matter out, but we have received a letter from an attorney that’s been filed for misdeeds concerning the open records and I’ll be honest, it’s got me a little bit confused.”
Wilson explained further, “When we had the closed meeting session to discuss personnel, I asked you all your opinion in that session knowing the decision was totally mine and all of you pretty much that’s what you said. You gave maybe an opinion, but you said Larry it’s your call…one of the most stressful situations I’ve ever been put in. I think we said no action was taken and then at some point, I stopped and I said no this is not gonna work and the employee I said at that point would be terminated. My reasoning, I do not have to acknowledge. Kentucky law does protect me with that.”
“So, I will correct it, that’s it. That’s what was said.”
Wilson then discussed the Frankfort work session. “We went to the workshop, there was absolutely no discussion to complain about an employee. We set there and listened to the ladies tell us exactly where we were at with FEMA. We have several open cases and things are running back as far as 2010. I don’t care whose fault it is. It’s inexcusable! Very inexcusable!
I based my decision on what I thought would be best for the county, cause we have got to move forward.”
And while I’m on my bandwagon I’m gonna say this, I have done my best to make everything open to the people of Metcalfe County and to let them know what’s going on, but I am not going to be undermined in no way. I’ve got a job to do and I’m gonna do it…we’ve got a good fiscal court, we’ve got a good group around us employees different ones here today, but it’s time to pick our feet up and move.”
Magistrate Daniel Bragg commented that all the information received from Frankfort were records the court had been requesting for over six months. Magistrate Ronnie Miller added that it was about 20 pages of FEMA projects. Bragg agreed that one statement on the minutes was mis-approved and that should be corrected, but nothing else had been done wrong.
David Bartley addressed the court and asked them to amend the ABC Ordinances to allow him and his partner Ricky Ricardo Torrez to open a sports bar in Summer Shade. It was suggested by Judge Wilson that the magistrates get the opinions of the people in their districts before any changes are discussed. Then a possible public meeting or town hall could be scheduled to discuss the matter if needed.
Road Supervisor Chris Compton advised the court of a danger of the chains around the historic courthouse yard. The weight of the chains is pulling and straightening the link that connects to the posts. One of his crew received serious damage to his fingers from one of the chains. He proposed welding a piece of rod to each link to prevent it from unhooking and hurting someone. The magistrates agreed that it was a hazard and advised him to go ahead and implement the safety measure.
The court approved the request for support of the Red Cross of South Central Kentucky disaster relief of $1,000.
Metcalfe County Fiscal Court meetings can be viewed on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/metcalfecountyfiscalcourt.