The city of Whitesburg is working around internet challenges in one of their departments and getting its understaffed police department back up to a 24-hour patrol.
There has also been a recent change in the way yard sales are held in the community, and a new flea market ordinance has been implemented.
On Tuesday, Councilman William Smolar addressed several issues in the city.
The yard sales ordinance, Smolar said, involves a limitation on how many yard sales a resident can have in a single year before it is considered a business instead of just getting rid of a few things. As for the flea market ordinance, he said the city did not have one in place prior to approving it last month.
“We started the ordinance at the request of a resident that wanted to start a flea market and we didn’t have an ordinance so we developed one,” said Smolar. “Its just a guide on what is and what isn’t allowed.”
Whitesburg’s water department will also get some long-needed computer upgrades. While Smolar is pleased with that, he is concerned that there is still shoddy internet service in the rural community. Prior to city hall being relocated into the building it operates from now, the city government did not have reliable internet service. The water department currently has little to no service, and in order to communicate with city hall, its staff has had to use phones or physically meet to share information that could have been emailed.
“Whitesburg is one of those areas where broadband is not available to everybody,” Smolar said. “I have been looking into it and I’ve talked with Sen. Matt Brass and I’ve talked with some of the providers and from what I understand, there’s a bill that was proposed to provide funding for rural broadband, so the providers are not doing anything at this moment to upgrade any of their systems until they see what happens with that bill.”
And while the city approved a 3 percent pay increase for employees, the first they’ve had in several years, the police department has a few vacancies that need to be filled. One resident said that they were concerned that the police were not able to pull a 24-hour patrol because there is not enough staff. A full staff for the small community would be six.
“We’ve got two vacancies and we’re still seeking applicants,” Smolar said. “We’ll send them to school if we need to or we’ll hire some already certified. No, there isn’t a 24-hour patrol right now because we’re short on officers like all the other cities and counties in the area. We’re all hurting for officers so right now we’re all short. We’ve got one cadet in school right now that is due to graduate in December and then two vacant positions that we’re trying to get filled. Once the new officer comes back from training and goes through field training and gets signed off on that then we’ll go back to the 24-hour shift. Still, we are working with that because the county is providing assistance, as well as the state patrol.”