By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Dec. 12, 2012 — Shortly after presiding at his first City Council meeting since taking office last Tuesday, newly-appointed Olive Hill Mayor Kenny Fankell sat down Monday for an exclusive interview with the Journal-Times.
He was quick to express appreciation for his supporters in the community and shared his hopes for the changes he wants to happen in the community during his two-year term.
“Communication is going to a vital part of things,” Fankell said. “It will go a long way to help in restoring trust. People have expressed to me that they feel there have been things that have been hidden.”
“That’s not my policy and that’s not the way things are going to be handled,” he added.
Fankell said he will have an “open door” policy with the community and that city government information will be available to the public.
In terms of immediate needs, the new mayor highlighted problems with infrastructure and economic development.
“We have water line issues that need to be addressed,” Fankell said. “There also are a number of sewer projects that we are getting ready to start with bids already opened.”
He also stated that he intends to make Olive Hill a friendlier climate for businesses and will work to help bring more jobs into the community.
Ongoing controversy surrounding the city’s utility rates also was addressed when the mayor talked about his plans for the city.
Fankell stated that there has been no response from the Attorney General’s office concerning a probe into the city’s electric and gas rates.
However, the mayor did report that he has arranged for Power Systems Engineering (PSE) to return in January for an open session and to answer the public’s questions about Olive Hill’s electric rates.
PSE is a Wisconsin-based firm that conducted a study of the city’s electric rates and usage earlier this year. The findings included a recommendation for additional rate hikes.
A firm date for the public session has not been set.
Amid speculation that a shakeup at City Hall might be forthcoming, the mayor indicated that he has no immediate plans to make any personnel changes.
“I’ve met with all of the department heads. I told them that as long as they do their jobs, they have nothing to worry about,” Fankell said.
Unanimously appointed in the wake of the drug arrest and resignation of former Mayor Danny Sparks, Fankell will serve out the remainder of Sparks’ term, ending Dec. 31, 2014.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.