City council appoints new mayor in Buckhorn
by Cris Ritchie
BUCKHORN – A new mayor has taken office in the city of Buckhorn.
It was last month when former Mayor Veda Wooton opted to resign as the city’s mayor, a position which she had held for several years. Her vacancy was filled when the council voted to appoint her husband, Pat Wooton, who was elected to the council last year, as the new mayor. Veda Wooton, subsequently, was expected to be appointed to the council during a special called meeting this week.
Mayor Pat Wooton, who most recently served as a field representative for Congressman Hal Rogers and also served a term as Perry County’s sheriff from 2002-06, noted the city essentially exists as a water company to provide service to area residents. But there are other projects he expects to continue working on while in office, including one which will extend waterlines in the area.
The Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands has approved funding for one waterline project at Cams Branch, Wooton said, while also approving the extension of new lines to serve a few more homes on Otter Creek Road. Buckhorn, which in the 2010 census recorded a population of 163 people, purchases water from the city of Hazard to supply its system.
The city, in conjunction with the fiscal court, has also taken what Wooton described as the “first few small steps” in what ultimately could be a 10-year project to build a water treatment plant at Buckhorn Lake. The plant, he said, would have to be a regional facility that could serve the surrounding area, including parts of other counties such as Breathitt and Clay.
An engineering company is currently working on a study for the project, and it if the plant is eventually constructed it would play a role in alleviating issues that Wooton said exist with potential water supply issues in Eastern Kentucky.
“In the work that I’ve done, that’s one of the things I came to notice real soon,” he said. “We’re on the cusp of a water supply problem in our region.”
Though Wooton reiterated that this project remains in the very early stages, he envisions a treatment plant that could hook into other systems that could in turn supply areas in times of emergency, such as one Buckhorn experienced in 2010 when a waterline break shut down service in the area for over a week.
“We need to get all of our systems linked together, because sooner or later everybody has some kind of problem and will need supplies, at least for a while,” he said.
Also in conjunction with the fiscal court, the city is working on a horse trail that would begin at the new Eagles Landing campground in Gays Creek, and wind along the lake to the lodge, and perhaps with further development tie in with a trail in nearby Leslie County. Wooton said plans are being drafted, and he expects a company working on the project to give the council a progress report at their next regular meeting.
“We think that will be a nice addition to the area,” he said.
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