Paul Hunt Thompson gives an update about city utilities last fall.

The City of Wheelwright is searching for a new chair of its city utilities commission.

During a meeting this month, the city commission approved receipt of a resignation letter from Paul Hunt Thompson, a former Floyd County judge-executive who served with the Wheelwright Utilities Commission for years.

Thompson submitted the letter on Oct. 31, announcing his resignation would be effective on Nov. 30.

“I have enjoyed my time of serve on the commission,” Thompson wrote. “Thank you and the commission for letting me serve in this capacity for these many years.”

Commissioner Andy Akers voted, “No,” on the motion to accept Thompson’s resignation.

“It’s his choice, man,” Commissioner Bobby Akers said.

Thompson gave a “run down” on the city utilities commission projects prior to submitting his resignation in October.

He reported that the city did not receive a grant it was seeking to update the city water plant, a project that has been planned for years, and he explained a possible path the utilities commission can take to finish that project.

“I’m disappointed, but at least when they sent the notice that we didn’t get it, they didn’t say that we weren’t affected by mines,” Thompson said. “It was an AML grant. We’ve got coal mines all around us for miles in every direction. Maybe the next time.”

He reported there is funding available in local government and there may be enough from those sources for the project.

“Even though we didn’t get that grant, I wanted to let you know kind of what’s going on. We had gotten a $500,000 grant, or bond issue. It cost $50,000 to prepare, which I thought was high ... We have paid that down to $490,000, and we still have $246,000,” he said. “The rest of it went into water line improvements, where we had damaged some roads and streets and so forth and did some blacktopping to repair. Our credit should be good enough to get another bond issue if we need it. If we can’t come up with enough grants to do it, then maybe we can get another bond issue to finish on the water plant.”

He reported the city utilities has $1.28 million in grant funds for the project as well as $250,000 left in bond issues and other funds.

He said the commission has more than $3 million in equipment and assets in Wheelwright, reporting assets total around $1.2 million after depreciation is accounted for.

“That’s definitely plenty of money for a bond issue, if needed, to finish our water plant,” he said.

He suggested the city continue providing water through the coal mine reservoir that’s been used in Wheelwright for decades. He reported the city’s water and sewer rates are $16 per 2,000 gallons each.

“I don’t know of anybody else selling water so cheap,” he said. “I don’t know of anybody selling any better tasting water.”

Mayor Don Hall said people interested in serving on the commission should stop by city hall or call, (606) 452-4202.

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