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Louisa Council fails to get quorum at second announced meeting in a week...
LOUISA. Ky. -- With two straight no-shows the Louisa city council failed to deal with pressing matters including the budget. Mayor Ted Preston last held a special meeting which was shortened when the hour became late, has'nt been able to get a quorum after only three of the six commissioners showed up. The next day, Preston sent notice that there would be a special meeting last night (Friday) but again, no quorum.
One of the several issues is raising the wholesale water rate on Big Sandy Water, which has customers in several areas of Lawrence County, since their wholesale rate had not been raised in more than a decade until 2013.
Attorney Bud Adams provided information showing the city sells the water to BSW for about half what it costs to produce it but they charge regular customers twice as much. Some council members want to know if that is fair to the customers.
In his message to The Lazer Adams acknowledged that there should be some type of a wholesale price raise and showed figures that say the city depends on the BSW to pay off projects that have already been done or are being done. Plus, with the water going back into the water/sewer system has caused the need for a new sewage plant.
The city has ordered a new study on how much it costs the city to produce the water.
Also, the new Parks and Recreation Board has not been discussed publicly and the council cannot agree on personnel policies for it workers.
Council members are required to go to only three meetings per year if they choose.
There is no meeting currently planned until the regular August meeting on the 12th.
From Bud Adams:
BSWD paid $231,975 to Louisa in 2013
Maximum savings in reduced production cost would amount to:
Chemicals: $216,053 x .19 = $41,050
Electricity: $108,674 x .19 = $20,648
Resulting in $170,277 in lost net revenue for Louisa ($231,975 - $61,698)
This loss would result in Louisa’s other 2,648 customers paying an additional $5.36 per month to make up the loss.
Editor's note: Just like in a more serious incident, the Lawrence County DES and fire and police departments worked together this morning to handle a potentially serious situation.
A natural gas leak was disvovered in city limits and reported to local officials who decided that people in certain areas needed to be evacuated. The process was in progress when the leak was stopped. No injuries were reported but it made a great real life test.
Here are the messages sent during the scare:
By Catrina Vargo
Louisa, KY -- According to Lawrence County Emergency Services director Mike Woods, a gas line has ruptured in downtown Louisa just moments ago.
Following is a statement from Michael Woods, Emergency Services Director for Lawrence Co:
"Due to gas line rupture, we are evacuating West Franklin St from South Lock Ave to South Water St., West Powhaten St. to South Water St., South Lock Ave from Madison St. to West Powhaten St., South Main Cross St. from Madison St. to West Powhaten St. and South Water St. from Madison St. to West Powhaten St.
The evacuation is expected to last for 1 to 1.5 hours," the DES message said.
The Louisa Fire Dept. and Lawrence County Emergency Services responded to the call about 10:30 this morning, Tuesday, July 8.
More details and updates will be posted as soon as additional information becomes available.
At approximately 12:00 noon, Lawrence County Emergency Services reported that the gas leak had been stopped.
The cause was that the water co. hit a gas line as they were working on a water line project.
Following is an official statement from EMS Director, Michael Woods:
"The gas leak has been stopped and crews from Columbia Gas will be on scene making repairs for the next few hours. The evacuation order has been lifted and everyone can return to their residence and/or place of work."
Woods thanked everyone for their cooperation during this incident.
Frank D. Spears, 30, of Louisa was arrested Friday at the Lawrence County Judicial Center inside the Circuit Court. Spears was arrested for Public Intoxication in a public place and Drug Paraphainlia.
According to Chief Deputy Mark Wheeler, Spears came into the Circuit Court in an intoxicated state. He was lethargic, had slow speech, glassy eyes, and unsteady upon going in front of the Judge. Spears leaned against the podium and it almost rolled out from under him.
Spears said that he takes pain pills, benzos, and other medications. He was a danger to himself, manifestly under the influence of a controlled substance.
He was arrested on June 13, 2014 15 Miles South of Louisa on Big Fork Rd. and served a Bench Warrant, and Indictment for Court on 2 charges of Sexual Abuse 1st Degree.
Pretrial officer Brian Frazier said Spears should be checked out and charged if needed. Spears also had a cut straw with residue in a cigarette pack on him.
Deputy Jailer Bill Hall was witness.
By Catrina Vargo
Louisa, KY -- A much needed road project began in downtown Louisa about two weeks ago, with a turning lane being built from Rt. 2565 onto W Madison St, into Louisa West Elementary School.
"The afternoon traffic congestion from people waiting to pick up their children from the elementary school has been a problem for years," said Todd Moran, Superintendent for Lawrence County Division of the Kentucky Transportation Dept.
Moran set about to gather together city officials, law enforcement, including Louisa City Police Chief Greg Fugitt, the Board of Education, including Mike Armstrong, and the Kentucky Transportation Dept, including Chief District Engineer, Mary Holbrook, all of which saw a need for the turning lane.
After the site was reviewed, Moran received authorization to proceed with the plan.
"I'm very proud of this project," he said. "Over 80 vehicles have been backed up here before," said Moran, who explained that not only was the traffic jam frustrating, but posed a danger as well.
The lane will be created by paving the existing road shoulder into the grassy area going down behind the school next to the tunnel.
When completed, there will be a 14 foot wide 'right turn only' lane directing school traffic into Louisa West Elementary into the current back parking lot. The lane will be one way, and exit through the existing gate where traffic will turn right only, through town.
There will be a gate at the entrance of the turning lane, along with the one that is already there at the exit point, both of which will be locked except for school dismissal times.
"These gates will be installed and controlled by the Board of Education," Moran said. "The new turning lane will be for passenger vehicles only. It will not be used for school buses."
Moran said, "everyone involved in this project has been great."
All the signs in the area where the lane is being built had to be removed, and everyone from AEP to the city water department, etc., have given their full cooperation.
Moran said they hope to have the lane completed by the time school starts back in August. Although he's not certain, he said, "We are trying our best to get it done."
Click on photo for video of Armstrong's reception
By Catrina Vargo
Louisa, KY -- The Lawrence County Board of Education met Monday, June 23, which was rescheduled from last week. It was Mike Armstrong's last meeting with the Board as Superintendent of the Lawrence County School District, where he has served for the past five years.
Before the meeting, Armstrong was called by his wife, Toni, who told him he needed to be there early. When he walked in, a surprised Superintendent found the cafeteria filled with co-workers, friends, and family.
After lots of hugs and handshakes, laughs, and tears, Board Chairman, Jim See spoke about Armstrong, saying he would be truly missed but wished him well on his new endeavor. Board member Barbara Robinson shared a couple of stories, and other members, Heath Preston and Madelyn Roberts also said a few words. Member Garnett Skaggs had not yet arrived, but said in the meeting she would miss him.
David Baird, who is serving as Executive Director for the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA), and whose position Mike Armstrong will be filling, was present at the reception, and said Armstrong "blew the board away" during his interview. He said Armstrong will start his new job on October 1 instead of July 1 as was announced earlier due to a KSBA change. Armstrong will get a three month unforseen vacation.
Armstrong was then presented with a plaque and an engraved gold watch.
He said he was "humbled" by the outpouring of support, and became emotional as he spoke about his years at Lawrence County. Armstrong ended by saying, "All we can hope for is to leave a place better than when we found it."
Appetizers, cake, and refreshments were served, then the Board proceeded to the library where the postponed June meeting was held.
The first item on the agenda was student and staff recognition, and Armstrong announced that LCHS teacher Ed Dixon has been named Assistant Principal at Louisa East Elementary. Dixon, a well respected Social Studies teacher at the high school for several years served as the Golf Coach and helped with the Academic team.
The Board then took a moment of silence in memory of long time bus driver, James Roger Smith, who recently passed away. "He was a very faithful employee," said Armstrong.
KSBA Energy Manager, Terry Salyer, was present and presented Blaine Elementary with the Energy Star Award, as well as Superintendent Mike Armstrong with an award of recognition.
Salyer then shared energy reports with the Board and commended the district for their part in controlling costs, and implementing energy saving programs within the school buildings. "What you have done here will help other districts improve" he said.
Salyer reported that after just one year of the energy saving operation, from March 2013 to February 2014, the savings was 21% above what was expected. These savings include a cumulative total of usage from lighting, water, power management, computer systems, and other energy uses.
"Even though rates went up 16% in January, you still did better than last year," Salyer said. He also noted that there have been no layoffs, partly due to energy savings.
The Board then took a minute to officially recognize Superintendent Mike Armstrong for his service to the Lawrence County School District.
"We are pleased to have worked with you. If you ever need us for anything, just call" said Chairman See. Armstrong thanked him for the kind words and said, "This has been the greatest experience I have ever had as an educator."
He said even though he will be working with 172 school districts in his new position in Frankfort, "there is no place like home," and he hopes to take the skills he has learned here and incorporate them across the Commonwealth.
Next, the Board discussed the free lunch program that was changed in what began as a pilot program in 2010 by the Department of Education, which allows all students to receive free breakfasts and lunches regardless of their family income. Currently, 100 of the state's 172 districts are part of the program.
Armstrong said the Federal Government has also changed school menus and recipes to include more fruits and vegetables, less salt and more natural ingredients, enhancing the nutrition value of meals. According to Armstrong, the program has increased the bottom line by $300,000, a portion of which will be reinvested back into the school's cafeterias and kitchens.
He said the program puts students on "an equal playing field," explaining that before, it was hard to get students to return the free lunch form because some were embarrassed about their financial situations. Armstrong said it was a fact that students are more proficient when they are eating solid, well balanced meals. "The program has been very successful."
The minutes from past meetings were read and approved, then Financial and Business Director, Edris Humphrey, read the financial report. The beginning balance in May was $2,292,589, revenue was $1,375,754, expenditures were $1,523,304, resulting in the ending May balance of $2,109,225.
"We are exactly where we expected to be," said Humphrey. The budget will be reviewed again during the next regular Board meeting in July. The Claims and Orders of the Treasurer were approved.
The consent agenda was then discussed, at which time, Board Member, Heath Preston asked about what the preventative maintenance expense of $5,000 was actually being used for. HVAC representatives explained that it was for a variety of services including inspection, cleaning, and servicing. Preston said the units are brand new, and he was familiar with such, as he has experience in their installation.
The representatives explained that inspection is the key to keeping everything in proper working order. Preston noted that the units were still under warranty. The reply was that if no one checks, then you don't know if something is wrong. Filters have to be changed every thirty days. Preston said they are in a money crunch right now and need to "tighten this up as much as possible."
The consent agenda which also consisted of general items such as facility uses, other activity reports and to retain Terry Salyer as Energy Manager for a two year period was approved.
The district data review and improvement plans was presented by Chief Academic Officer, Cassandra Webb. Standings in reading, math and language were discussed, and Webb said they weren't where they need to be. Armstrong said even though the loss of 34 instruction days due to the weather had some impact, it was still not an excuse, and Webb agreed. Preston asked "What do we need to work on?", and See asked, "When we see deficiencies, what do we do about it?"
Webb said she just spent a week in Lexington regarding a new evaluation system.
"I'm excited to see how this system is going to push us to the next level" she said.She said the two questions we need to ask is, "When did we know, and what do we do about it?"
Webb said according to research, it is not so much the class size, as it is the breadth of student abilities that teachers are dealing with.
"We have to learn how to determine the skill set vs the class size."
Preston put it into other words, by asking "How do we get students who are on different levels in the same classroom on the same page?" Webb said "That is exactly the challenge."
LCHS Principal, Christy Moore, reported that of the seniors, 40 were determined to be career ready, 78 college ready, and 36 were both.
"The numbers were above what expected" said Moore.
Other business included the approval of Edris Humphrey as Treasurer to the Board and Betty Mullins as Secretary for a period of two years, as well as adjustments to the payroll calendar, hiring of substitute teachers, contract to retain Mike Schmitt as attorney, travel reimbursement rate for employees at .40 per mile, and the creation of a kindergarten position which will be posted in the next couple of days.
The Board then entered into executive session to discuss Superintendent Armstrong's annual evaluation.
They returned, adopting the unanimous evaluation at an overall rating of 3.1 on standards, and a 3 on goals, which is a performance rating of excellent on a scale of 1-4.
The Board's final comments were, "Our expectations is that you continue improvements and successes as you pursue new opportunities and experiences."
The meeting was then adjourned. The next regular Board of Education meeting will be Monday, July 21 at the LCHS Library.
Superintendent’s Personnel Action/Update
June 23, 2014
Braun Ream - Teacher at Blaine Elementary School
Amanda McCall - Teacher at Lawrence County High School
Request the following positions be created effective July 1, 2014:
Director of Pupil Personnel & District Personnel
Lawrence County Schools