The building contractor has informed me that our new city building may be ready as early as January 1, 1999. The original estimated date of completion was February 1st, but good weather has allowed the work to progress much faster than expected.
We have already begun some planning for the actual occupancy and the regional library director has drawn up a floor plan for the library's shelving, tables, etc.
We will also schedule an "open house" for the building, but it will probably be early spring before we can have that event. A lot of internal work will remain to be done even after we begin the process of taking over the facility.
And Mr. Ron Perkins has told me that Taylor Manufacturing plans to place an original type metal ceiling and tile floors in the building on South Main Street that the firm plans to renovate for use as an office building.
That type of renovation should help maintain the historic character of the building.
I mentioned earlier that I believe that the City Council will consider proposals from individuals to renovate/restore the caboose that sits idle in Veterans Park.
The same is true for the old Jellico City Hall. Although we are currently working to obtain grant money for that purpose, we are also willing to consider proposals from private individuals who want to see the old structue saved and utilized for some appropriate purpose.
I now have all information on my desk that has been requested from the Utilities Board by the City Council. Included in that information is the hourly wages earned by each individual in the department.
One of the reasons given by some for wanting to abolish the Utilities Board was that certain information could not be obtained by the Council. But since Councilman Jerry Neal has served on the Board as the Council's Representative, all information that he has requested has been furnished by the Utilites Board and Utilities Manager.
And we intend to continue the cooperation between the Council and the Board/Utilities Department through regular workshops and improved communication.
To me, the most suprising statistic to come out of the special call meeting on November 27th is the fact that we now sell 78% of our power to customers located outside the city limits of Jellico (something like 52% is sold in the state of Kentucky). I was aware that the percentage is large but I had no idea that we now utilize only 22% inside the city.
The idea proposed by the Tennessee Valley Authority to expand such Boards to include representation from all areas that are served by a utility appears to be worth consideration and I will consider it before filling the present vacancy on the Board.
And the Utilities Department has received a highly complimentary report pertaining to the water system. In a letter from the State of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation dated November 19, 1998, Mr. Robert Shryrock, Sanitary Inspector, commended the department.
"This office would like to commend the Jellico Water System on the appearance and operation of the old water plant and distribution system. The commitment to construct the new 1.5 MGD water treatment facility illustrates Jellico's commitment to providing a safe potable water supply to it's customers."
Our water was given a numerical rating of 96, placing it among the state's "approved" water systems. And that rating was obtained although low amounts of rainfall and low water levels have forced extensive treatment procedures.
The process to select and hire a City Administrator is presently taking place with interview conducted by the Search Committee consisting of myself and Councilmen Allen McClary, Chairman, Jerry Neal and Lonnie Vann.
It is unclear at the time of this writing if the Committee will be prepared to make a recommendation at the regular meeting on December 17th.
I cannot recall if I have previously mentioned that the Jellico Post Office has been selected as a "Great American Post Office" by Mr. James H. Brown, author of a new book by the same title.
According to Brown, the Jellico Post Office was originally funded in 1909 at a cost of $ 60,000 but construction did not begin for five more years. It was one of only two post offices designated as a Mine Rescue Station (the other was in Norton, Virginia).
The original design for the Beaux-Arts-Style structure was prepared under the direction of Supervising Architect James Knox Taylor, who was replaced by Oscar Wenderoth before it was finally dedicated.
GREAT AMERICAN POST OFFICES, James H. Brown, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, International, 1998 ISBN 0-471-14388-X
"Christmas in the Park,'98" is scheduled to open this Thurdsay night and we are hoping to have everything ready by that time. We were originally running ahead of schedule but the windstorm of three weeks ago did extensive damage to the large trees that we had decorated and we will be hard pressed to get the park looking as good as it did in 1997. But we are going to try.
I often cite people who tell me that they regularly read the Jellico Advance-Sentinel that did not do so before I began writing this column.
Mrs. George Adkins says that she now awaits each week's edition and makes it availbable to her sister. She also mails copies to friends who live out of town and out of state.
I sincerely appreciate all those who take time to mention that they read my column and I am glad that they enjoy it.
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