• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

Local governments move on storm clean-up


PILES OF BRUSH like these on South Main Street in Versailles will cost the city and county governments many thousands of dollars. (Photo by John McGary)

During a special meeting Tuesday, the Versailles City Council voted 5 to 0 to approve a contract with Dave Leonard Tree Services to clean up debris from the July 20 storm that toppled countless trees and knocked out power for days.

Council Member Ann Miller was absent.

Woodford Fiscal Court is also expected to sign up for outside help during a special meeting Friday morning at 9.

The Versailles deal will allow up to 150 hours of work at $200 an hour for the company, which helped clean up after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.

For the Versailles City Council, the process began with a special meeting the previous Thursday during which members voted unanimously to issue a RFP (request for proposals) for “an experienced contractor … capable of removal of debris resulting from the recent storm …”

City and county leaders have said they need outside help, with Woodford Fiscal Court unanimously approving an RFP for debris clean up at its July 24 meeting.

(The city of Midway fared better; see story on page 3.)

Last Thursday, before the RFP vote, Mayor Brian Traugott praised Woodford Emergency Management (EM) Director Drew Chandler and others.

“First responders, Emergency Management, city streets, fire, cemetery – everybody came out. It was all hands on deck, seamless …” Traugott said.

Chandler gave the council an update on the aftermath of the storms, which knocked out power to 12,940 of 13,657 Kentucky Utilities customers in the county. Most were without electricity for days, with the exceptions including Bluegrass Community Hospital, which had power restored within six to eight hours, Chandler said.

“We’re very thankful for all the work of Kentucky Utilities and all the subcontractors that they brought in,” Chandler said. “Today, there aren’t any remaining power outages, but ahead of us is this debris management situation. We’re not aware of any unmet needs of public services at this time.”

Sirens

One area of concern involves the dozen emergency sirens around the county, all of which except for the one at the Versailles Industrial Park are electric-powered. Chandler said some of the sirens are older than both he and Traugott, with the one atop the Versailles Municipal Building, which serves as City Hall, perhaps older than their combined ages.

“We’ve heard that several of the sirens did not sound on the initial and the second and third round of storms that came through,” Chandler said. “ … If the electricity is out, they don’t work. It’s a motor that drives the device that makes the sound …”

Traugott said he was concerned about the problem – and the cost of purchasing new sirens. Monday, he told the Sun about a $28,000 siren with a solar panel-powered battery purchased by an Anderson County business. Chandler said he expects to revisit the issue with local leaders in the near future.

At last Thursday’s meeting, Chandler said he’d also received complaints about the mass emergency notification system not reaching the home phones of people. He attributed much of the problem to cordless phones, which, without power, are useless. In other cases, phone lines were brought down by the high winds. EM worker Emily Coleman spent much of the two days following the storm trying to inform citizens of the latest developments and connecting them to resources, Chandler said.

Chandler repeated his contention that the total damage to public entities across the state would not rise to the $6.3 million threshold needed for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Though state road crews have picked up debris along South Main Street and state roads around the county, local governments will likely foot most of the clean-up costs, he said.

RFP

The Versailles RFP asked for proof of recent work as a prime contractor in projects similar in size and scope, success in major disaster recovery projects and experience seeking reimbursements for eligible damage costs from state and federal agencies.

Contractors were asked to provide materials, equipment and labor and a truck with a minimum storage capacity of 40 cubic feet. Debris can be taken to the Woodford Solid Waste and Recycling Center, which is accepting it at no charge through at least next Saturday, or a city-owned farm on Clifton Road a half-mile past city limits.

State law prohibits government workers from working on private property, a caution Chandler has shared multiple times. However, a city employee will work with each crew to help with directions and traffic control, and the Dave Leonard truck has a 24-foot knuckle boom.

The work can begin as soon as today, Thursday, Aug. 3, but no later than Monday, and must be finished by Aug. 21.

Quotes for debris disposal will be considered at another date, according to the RFP.

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