PRESTONSBURG – The Prestonsburg City Council met Monday to discuss several important items for the city.
Darrell Patton addressed the council concerning the review of health insurance policies for city employees. Patton informed Mayor Les Stapleton and council members he had approached various health insurance agencies to ensure city employees receive the best deal possible on the premiums. Anthem refused to give a quote. United Health Care deductibles start over January 1, which Patton stated could have an impact on some employees. Bluegrass Family offered the same plan currently being used. The council agreed to keep its insurance the same.
Next to take the floor was Thursa Sloan, the Director of the Floyd County Health Department. Sloan addressed the council concerning the need for the Kentucky Needle Exchange in Floyd County. She explained the program to members of the council and noted the urgent need to implement it into action. After an outbreak of HIV in a small rural Indiana town, the Center for Disease Control conducted a study to determine what areas were most vulnerable for an outbreak of disease such as Hepatitis C. Floyd County ranked 10th in the nation.
“Hepatitis can live on a surface outside the body for up to six weeks,” said Sloan. “The main purpose of the needle exchange is to prevent a health crisis. Addicts will get needles if they need then. If they can obtain clean needles through the exchange and bring those needles back once they are used, we are preventing them from leaving possible infected needles laying throughout the county.”
Rachael Willoughby from Mountain Comprehensive Care is currently working on a grant to help support the needle exchange program in Floyd County.
The council passed unanimously to implement the needle exchange program into effect.
According to Slone, the program could be up and running as early as December.
Next, the city discussed the continuous of the Emergency Flight insurance program paid for by the city. The city has partnered with a company which provides emergency ambulance flights to trauma centers. If a citizen living in the county is airlifted to a trauma center, the company will accept what the insurance agrees to pay for that service. No additional fees are owed by the patient. The cost of the city’s plan is $14,314. Since the city adopted the plan, 35 flights have been made. The average cost of one flight is $22,000.
Council member Harry Adams opposed the insurance, saying he could not see how it was the city’s responsibility to pay for the service. The council voted to continue to partner with the company and provide the service to the residents of Floyd County.
Brienne Lowry from the Lexington Ballet approached the council and asked for possible sponsorships to offset the cost of $2,500 to rent the Mountain Arts Center to put on a production of ‘The Night Before Christmas.”
“We offer a comprehensive professional production to bring a caliber of arts to the area many of the children and adults have never experienced,” said Lowry. “We focus on the education aspect of dance and we will provide the audience free of cost with educational material that aligns with the ballet. Ticket prices would be $18 per child and $25 per adult.”
Stapleton and council members were interested in the educational aspect of having a professional ballet company partner with the city. The mayor suggested Lowery contact the Floyd County Board of Education to see if it would be possible to allow students studying dance and humanities to come and watch the performers get ready for the show and see how a professional ballet production comes together. She agreed to contact the Board of Education and follow up with him.
The council also reviewed bids for the financing of the city’s new garbage truck. After reviewing five bids, the council opted to go with First Commonwealth Bank, which agreed to finance the new truck at a fixed rate of 2.64 percent over 60 months.
Another hot topic being discussed wass the Broadband Feasibility study. In partnership with Big Sandy Area Development District, The City of Prestonsburg posted a Request for Qualifications asking companies to submit their qualifications for conducting a study to show how Prestonsburg can become a broadband city and a part of the Kentucky Wired Network. Only one bid was submitted. The Solarity Group, based in Lexington, presented how it would conduct a broadband feasibility study in partnership with CTC Technology and Energy, which is based in Washington D.C.
Stapleton and council members were concerned that only one bid was submitted.
“Tell me, is there something wrong with Prestonsburg?,” Stapleton questioned. “What should we have done differently to gain more interest from other companies to ensure we are getting the best unbiased study.”
The Solarity Group encouraged the council to put out more information about the city and use Google City Check to list what the city has to offer.
Denise Thomas, who is with Big Sandy ADD, advised the council to provide more information and resubmit the Request for Qualifications to see if more bids came in before making a final decision.
Also, Prestonsburg, a part of the Kentucky League of Cities, is now recognized as an ethical city.
Lastly on the night’s agenda, before the council went into executive session, October 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. was chosen as Trick or Treat Night in Prestonsburg.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8506.