PRESTONSBURG — A resolution regarding a proposed county government extension office in McDowell created some heated discussion last Friday, during a special meeting of Floyd County Fiscal Court.
During the meeting, fiscal court members were to vote on a resolution, SP 13-02-03 which would authorize the reimbursement of a Kentucky Local Government Economic Development Fund Project for $60,000. The money is to be spent on a Floyd County Extension office currently under construction by Denzil Hall in McDowell.
But according to Judge Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall, the judge’s office cannot afford to use the building.
“I have made that clear to Mr. Hall that the judge’s office would not be assuming an office there, nor would the fiscal court be responsible for the utilities, insurance and maintenance because, simply, we don’t have the money,” Marshall said. “I have more pressing needs to worry about concerning this building, the jail, and the Floyd County Annex.”
According to Magistrate Warren Jarrell, the county has entered into a contract or agreement with Hall to occupy the building, though it was unclear from the discussion how long the contract was to last. Hall could not be reached for comment.
In March 2012, Floyd County Attorney Keith Bartley drafted a letter on behalf of the Marshall’s office and sent it to Rep. Greg Stumbo’s office in Frankfort to request financial assistance with leasing a building.
In the letter, it states that, “If the legislature could provide sufficient funding so as to allow us to rent an appropriate facility, that we could certainly work together as a collective group of office holders to select an appropriate rental facility and to make the best use of the space available so as to be able to provide not only better access to the services of our offices but in a location that would prevent our constituents from having to travel a great distance at a great expense.”
The letter was signed by R.D. Marshall, John K. Blackburn, Chris Waugh and Connie Hancock.
Magistrate Ronnie Akers told the court that he was there last week and found that there were name plates on the doors, including one for Marshall.
Marshall says those measures were taken without knowledge of certain details.
“Mr. Hall told me that you all picked out your office up there,” said Magistrate Jarrell. “That Lois went up there and she picked where to put the windows in and stuff.”
Lois Marshall immediately denied such action.
“Uh, not so,” Lois Marshall said.
“I’m just telling you what the man said,” Jarrell responded.
“There’s lots been said about Lois, but, (this is) not so.”
Lois Marshall said she accompanied her husband to the new building, and that she casually made some remarks about which offices would be nicer, and that a worker in the building took it upon himself to write “Judge” on one of the room’s building studs.
The money to be spent on the building is coal severance dollars, and does not come out of the general fund, though as coal severance money is reduced, it is unlikely the funding will be available to continue to lease the building after the first year. Judge Marshall said County Treasurer David Layne has told him the county cannot afford to rent the building, and that there are several additional expenses with the current courthouse and jail that need to be addressed.
“I’m not going,” Judge Marshall said. “I do not need an office up there.”
“I didn’t promise him (Denzil Hall) anything, I really didn’t promise him anything,” Judge Marshall added, saying he believes that the original idea was for the county clerk, sheriff, and PVA to have offices at the new location.
County Clerk Chris Waugh says that because of those coal severance funds, it’s a rent-free building for his office to use for a year.