City Council approves annexation along South U.S. 25

Jan. 18—Expansion of London City Limits between Interstate 75 exits 38 to 29 brought city services to areas in southern Laurel County.

To further that expansion, the London City Council addressed in a special-called meeting Friday the issue of annexing along U.S. 25 from London to the intersection of U.S. 25-South and U.S. 25-West (Cumberland Gap Parkway) to further assist city police and business growth in the area.

The annexation would run along U.S. 25 with property owners choosing to voluntarily become part of the city limits. London Mayor Randall Weddle stressed that annexation would be strictly voluntary.

"This will all be voluntary — we will be giving people a choice if they want to be annexed," Weddle said.

Council member Donnie Philpot questioned the costs of surveys of the property for that annexation, with City Attorney Larry Bryson adding that the city would bear the costs of the surveys.

Weddle mentioned two industrial parks that could join in with the annexation — Greer Industrial Park at the intersection of KY 1006 and U.S. 25 and the Fariston Industrial Park on U.S. 25. Currently the city police utilize U.S. 25 to patrol the southern annexed sections of the city and further annexation would place those sections as part of the city.

Council member Kelly Greene questioned ongoing annexation projects along Parker Road and KY 192, to which she was told that those processes will continue. Greene said those areas had been on the topic table for some time and she did not want to see it overlooked.

Weddle also addressed the A.R. Dyche Memorial Park board, which currently is defunct. Margaret Keith, granddaughter of Russell Dyche, who donated the property for a cemetery, said the site is often referred to as "Cemetery" but the proper name of the property is the A.R. Dyche Memorial Park. Options for council members were to consider keeping the board under city oversight or creating the board as a self-operating unit.

City CDL drivers will also be seeing an increased pay check, after the council agreed to give those drivers a raise to $20 per hour.

"Those drivers are currently $5 an hour behind the rates," Mayor Weddle added.

London Police Chief Chuck Johnson also spoke to council members regarding the Interagency Agreement for a HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Task Force that involves both the city police and Laurel County Sheriff's Office in conjunction with the HIDTA program created through monies lobbied for by Congressman Hal Rogers. The combined agencies work together in drug investigations. Under the agreement, the city and county would split the costs. The task force has already made two significant investigations with arrests and seizure of illicit drugs. That measure passed unanimously.

A water leak on Chinook Drive also spurred discussion, with council members hearing from Randy Gay with the city's Street Department. Gay said the problem arises with a smaller pipe that allows water runoff. He said the problem can be resolved by installing an 18- inch pipe to replace the 12-inch pipe. With gravel and the installation, the project is expected to cost $7,230.

Returning to a prior discussion, council members also voted to terminate the lease agreement between the City of London and London Tourism Commission for the London Community Center. Although the reasons for that termination were not discussed in detail, the contract does allow either party to cancel the lease without reason. That issue, however, was a main topic of discussion during Monday's special called tourism meeting. (See related article, this edition.)

In other actions, council members approved:

—Adding Google Workspace to the city's newly created IT Department. Sgt. Eric Stallard told council members that the new system provided better security at cheaper rates than the Microsoft programs. The city would need 75 accounts for staff at a cost of $228 annually, with the overall cost being $17,100. Stallard said that in situations where a city employee tried to log in to their account with an incorrect password would frequently shut down the entire system, which is outdated. The new system was considerably less costly and more efficient, he continued. That was approved unanimously.

—Establishment of the London Finance Corporation, which is comprised of city council members. When property purchases are discussed, the finance corporation meets and approves/disapproves the purchase. The board must then adjourn with the issue then being discussed as a council.

—Advertising for bids for a 2022 Dodge Durango to replace the cruiser destroyed in the fatal accident that took the life of City Officer Logan Medlock in October.

—Declaration of surplus property from City Hall. Weddle added that some items had already been distributed to other city departments.

—The loan of furniture to City Hall by Victoria Weddle.

—Purchasing new radio system for the city police department. The current system is 12 years old and needs updated. A new unit from London Radio is priced at $30,000.