From increased expenses for the election to the growth in litter on streets, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt in Warren County.
As if they didn’t already know, Warren Fiscal Court magistrates heard examples of just how serious those impacts are during Tuesday’s meeting at the Warren County Courthouse.
John Helveston, who lives on Moorman Lane in Plum Springs, complained about the increase in litter along that street that connects to Louisville Road.
“It (litter) has been an ongoing issue,” Helveston said, “and it’s getting worse. When the coronavirus scare first started, this road was beautiful. There was no trash.
“The minute the lockdown was lifting, there was litter on the road. There are people on this road who won’t pick up the trash on their property. It pretty much looks like a pigsty now,” he said.
Helveston implored the magistrates to help alleviate the problem, but the pandemic has made it impossible to implement the usual solution of having Warren County Regional Jail inmates clean up the mess.
With a number of the state’s jails and prisons hit with COVID-19 outbreaks, the Kentucky Department of Corrections has forbidden the use of inmates on work details outside those facilities.
“We’ve had several calls from people requesting trash pickup,” Warren County Jailer Stephen Harmon said. “Under normal circumstances, our crews would be out there. But since March we’ve had no inmates outside the facility.”
The result can be seen simply by driving county roads, said Fourth District Magistrate Rex McWhorter, who represents the Plum Springs area.
“I was out there (Moorman Lane) Sunday, and there was trash along the road,” McWhorter said. “In the past, we had to get inmates out there once every couple of months, but now we can’t.
“I feel sorry for those people. I know it (the litter) is a detriment. I don’t have a solution other than the residents picking up the trash.”
Harmon said the jail normally has five road crews operating, responding to calls to pick up litter along county and state roads. Last year, Harmon said, those crews picked up more than 10,000 bags of litter.
The jailer said cessation of the program was mandated by the state, and he believes that mandate has helped keep COVID-19 out of the jail.
“We’ve been blessed so far,” he said. “Our staff and inmates have done a good job of keeping the virus out of the facility. We’ve not had any known cases in our inmates.”
While saying that he wants to reinstate the road crews, Harmon believes now is not the time.
“The main thoroughfares and streets like Moorman Lane are suffering,” he said. “People are mad because their street looks bad. I understand that. We want to get the program back, but we want to do it safely.”
Although powerless to address the litter problem for now, the magistrates did take some action Tuesday to address another pandemic-related issue: the added costs of the general election.
Magistrates voted to grant authority to Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon to sign a $570,360 grant agreement with the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a nonprofit that received a $300 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to promote safe and reliable voting in states and communities during the pandemic.
The county has already received election-related funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, but Buchanon said “there aren’t enough CARES Act funds to take care of everything.”
The county clerk’s office is faced with the added expense of extended in-person voting that started Tuesday, expanded absentee voting and added safeguards that must be put in place at six polling places on Election Day.
“We’re going to have to spend a great deal of extra money to provide election services,” Buchanon said. “With the additional costs, we’re looking for every opportunity to access additional funds.”
The magistrates also approved issuing industrial revenue bonds of up to $80 million as an inducement for Canada-based Nova Steel to locate a plant in Warren County.
Although based in Canada, Nova Steel has plants in Michigan and Mexico.
In other action Tuesday, the magistrates:
- approved spending $2,850 to Boyd Cat for a snow pusher attachment for the track loader at Basil Griffin Park.
- approved spending $9,956.08 to Miracle Recreation for four outdoor basketball goals at the Jennings Creek facility.
- approved an expenditure of $3,700 to CelleBrite USA for renewal of a software agreement for the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force.
- adopted the execution of a $80,000 Rural Secondary Road program agreement with the state Transportation Cabinet for drainage structure replacement for Little Beaver Creek.
- approved spending $5,985.79 to Buck Electric for work on the NCTC broadband internet project at Phil Moore Park.
- approved spending $1,293.09 to R.E. Michael Co. for a replacement furnace for the drug task force building.
- approved the purchase of 55 Glock 9-millimeter firearms, at a total cost of $19,635, for the county jail’s deputies.
- approved purchasing two cordless electrostatic backpack sprayers and two cases of spray from Staples in the amount of $3,325.98 for use at the old Alvaton gymnasium, the Ephram White Park senior center and other locations.
- approved the $2,695 purchase of five Stearns i810 Surface Rescue Dry Suits.
- approved spending $1,062.12 to Causey’s Collision Center for repairs to a Ford F350 truck at Buchanon Park.
The next fiscal court meeting is scheduled for Oct. 28 at 9 a.m.
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.