HAZARD – The Perry County Fiscal Court on Tuesday approved several items during its regular meeting, including the sheriff’s budget and a resolution to relocate three graves in the Buckhorn community, before an argument broke out between the county judge and two local residents.
Chief Deputy Tony Eversole presented the sheriff’s budget for 2013, which totals $1,664,065 and will take effect on Jan. 1. The budget includes receipts of $585,500 on commission for tax collection, $225,000 for a state advancement, $175,000 from Administrative Office of the Courts for court security reimbursement, and $200,000 in coal severance.
More than half of the expenditures in the sheriff’s budget are for personnel, with $919,873 set aside for salaries for deputies and employees. Sheriff Les Burgett’s gross salary, which is set by the state, will be $92,000 and includes expenses for training and other benefits. The budget also calls for $92,000 in fuel for the sheriff’s fleet, $25,000 for fleet maintenance, $100,000 for vehicles, and $10,051 for office equipment.
The fiscal court voted to unanimously approve the sheriff’s budget.
In other business, the court voted to approve the relocation of three graves estimated to be more than 100 years old. Everett Currier, owner of Sturgeon Mining which has an operation in the Buckhorn area, presented an archaeological report to the court Tuesday detailing work done to locate three graves in the area. The graves are marked only by slabs of stone with no identifiers.
There is no access road to the graves, which rest at the edge of the mining operation. Currier requested permission from the fiscal court to move them approximately 300 feet. Beattyville Funeral Home, he said, would be hired to complete the move.
The archaeological work was completed after Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble expressed concern that there may have been more than three graves in the area, but Currier noted that only three could be located during the survey.
The identities of the people buried there are not known, Noble said, and efforts to determine their identities have been fruitless. A recent public hearing on the matter held in Buckhorn also did not attract any interest.
“Based on what we’ve seen there, those graves are between 125 and 100 years old,” Currier said. “And the family that’s owned this property has owned it since 1964, and they could not tell me who they (those buried) were or any relatives or anything of that nature.”
Magistrate Earl Brashear made a motion giving permission to the company to move the graves, but added that there should be a road left to give any potential family members access to the site.
“I think you should leave a road where you can get to these,” Brashear said. “If somebody comes from out of state and thinks that’s their family in time, they should be able to drive close to it anyway.”
The court later approved a resolution authorizing the relocation of the graves through a unanimous vote.
Following the county’s regular business, Judge Noble opened the court for any issues in the audience, at which time Lost Creek resident Lloyd Engle questioned Noble about issues at the Perry County Ambulance Authority.
Engle, along with Perry County resident Eddie Campbell, submitted a letter to the Herald last week critical of expenditures being made at the ambulance authority, specifically the issuance of an ambulance service vehicle to Assistant Director Wanda Noble.
Noble quickly interrupted Engle, noting that any business of the ambulance authority is best brought up before that board of directors and not the fiscal court.
Noble, who serves as chairman of the ambulance board, also addressed an assertion in their letter that a Yamaha Rhino utility vehicle obtained through a grant from Yamaha in 2008 has never been seen at the ambulance service. According to Noble, the Rhino was initially obtained through the grant and later purchased when the grant period ended by the Perry County Tourism Commission, and not the ambulance service. An invoice on the vehicle dated from July 16, 2009 noted that the commission paid $6,200 for the vehicle.
The tourism commission eventually moved the vehicle to Gays Creek where county employees overseeing the park there could collect garbage. Noble said it was recently stolen from the park.
“Some of the articles you’re putting in the paper are ridiculous, and you’re interfering with the court’s business,” Noble told Engle and Campbell. “You’re not telling the truth.”
After the court approved a $200 expenditure for a county resident who lost her home in a fire, Engle and Campbell continued questioning Noble about the ambulance service vehicle. Noble moved to adjourn the meeting, and again informed them to attend the next meeting of the ambulance board before asking officers with the Perry County Police to escort them from the courtroom.
Engle and Campbell left the room without incident.