Harlan council hears updates on downtown buildings, knocked down light polls

Published 4:21 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

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The Harlan City Council heard an update on the former Belk Building and other projects within the city during the panel’s regular monthly meeting for April.

Mayor Joe Meadors brought the council up to speed on repairs to the downtown building.

“I’m going to bring you up to date on two or three things,” Meadors said. “They’re making tremendous progress in that Belks building. We still don’t know what’s going to go in there.”

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According to Meadors, the building has undergone multiple repairs.

“The roof’s on, they’ve got the water completely out of the basement,” Meadors said. “They’ve got the walls up and they’re getting ready to sheetrock. They’re about 80 percent through with the wiring. It should look better in the next two or three months. You should see a great big difference.”

Meadors also informed the council of an issue with the city’s downtown light poles.

“We cannot seem to keep our light poles up,” Meadors said.

Meadors said approximately two weeks prior to the meeting, a person from the Harlan County Beer Company called to inform him an RV had just knocked down a light pole near the business and left the scene. Meadors located the RV and spoke with the man who was operating the recreational vehicle.

“He had just bought this RV from his son, Meadors said. “He drove it all the way from Tennessee to here, but never got insurance on it. The reason he was in town is he was wanting to go to the sheriff’s office to get it tagged and titled, but in the meantime his rearview mirror on the RV just wiped our pole out … That’s the third or fourth pole we’ve lost in about four months.”

Meadors mentioned Harlan City Police Chief Winston Yeary cited the driver for driving without insurance.

The mayor then moved on to the topic of property nuisances within the city.

“We’ve issued two nuisance notices,” Meadors said. “We’ve gotten a response from one and the other we haven’t. The property was cleaned up immediately, as soon as they got the letter in the mail, they put about four or five guys in there and took care of the property. They say they’re going to have this same crew keep it clean and mowed all summer. We’re making progress there.”

Council member Ann Hensley informed Meadors she had been approached by a person wishing to do some volunteer work for the city.

“We have a citizen in Harlan who has offered to assist us in making Harlan more attractive by getting people together and cleaning windows, buildings, putting flowers in the flowerpots and painting the flowerpots,” Hensley said. “You have bragged on her yard before.”

Meadors indicated he would be happy to speak with the woman.

“If we’ve got a group that’s willing to do that, we need to help them,” Meadors said. “We’ll try to talk to her later in the week.”

Meadors mentioned one downtown business has recently completed an upgrade.

“The Harlan County Beer Company has built their outdoor deck and stage,” Meadors said. “They’ve also created a space for their dumpster … it seems like everything’s moving well.”

Meadors updated the council on interest received concerning a grant the city is offering business owners to upgrade the façade of their downtown buildings.

“We’ve gotten a couple of requests in for our façade grants,” Meadors said. “(The grants) are first come, first served, so when the money’s gone, the money’s gone.”