In the last regular meeting of the Johnson County Fiscal Court for longtime Judge-Executive R. T. “Tucker” Daniel, Commissioner Paul Daniel and Commissioner Darren Gamble, the court took care of regular monthly business and joined numerous other local counties in signing onto the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’s resolution supporting the protection of the federal black lung fund.
The resolution makes note that the rate of miners developing black lung is actually on the rise, but the excise tax that pays into the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is scheduled for a 50 percent cut, threatening its solvency.
The resolution also voices support for protecting miners’ pensions and for Rep. Hal Rogers’ RECLAIM Act, a five-year plan to invest $1 billion from the Abandoned Mine Lands Trust Fund into Kentucky and neighboring states, which could mean nearly $12 million for cleanup of abandoned mines in Johnson County alone.
“I don’t know what more you can do other than keep up the effort and push your elected representatives to stand up and be counted,” Tucker Daniel said. “I recommend that we support this effort and let it be known the Johnson County Fiscal Court has signed onto this.”
The court also made its regular $40,000 monthly contribution to the jail fund; accepted updates to the sheriff’s budget for unbudgeted receipts from grants and surplus sales, and a transfer to the postage fund for mailing tax bills; voted to declare as surplus and deed a 0.12 acre tract in Van Lear to the Van Lear Historical Society; voted to continue an annual application process on behalf of Paintsville EMS for $10,000 in grant funds for equipment; and heard about the ongoing projects that will be wrapped up or transferred under road department director Willard Burton, who is retiring this month.
The court also heard from Rodney Robinson and Thomas Rice with the Johnson County Firefighters Association, who presented plaques and thanks to the outgoing members of the court for their efforts to revitalize the county’s fire departments.
“We want to thank you for all the support you have put behind this association,” Robinson said. “We struggled and we struggled. Then they put us in the county budget, $8,000 per year, with stipulations on how we spend that money. We have to hand back copies of receipts and checks.”
Daniel said he appreciated the sentiment, and pointed out that some volunteer fire districts in the county enjoy a better ISO protection rating than some paid departments can provide.
“I am truly pleased that we’ve been able to do what we’re doing,” Daniel said. “You (firefighters) make this place a better place to live.”
Later in the meeting, Daniel said the work to support firefighters was just one part of what he’s proud to have been able to accomplish in county government, and thanked his commissioners for their dedicated work.
“I can’t leave tonight without telling people how much it’s meant to me. I had no idea I was going to end up as county judge, I had no interest in politics,” Daniel said. “But we got here. My grandmother used to say, ‘There’s a plan for everybody.’ … We’ve learned a lot, and we’ve struggled a lot, and it took us a while to get our running shoes on. We’re very pleased and very proud we’ve been able to do what we’ve done. It’s not been easy sometimes ... I’m very pleased to have served. It’s been an honor for me.”
“I love Johnson County, I love the people, and even though I’m not in office I’ll continue to do what I can to a make it a better place to live and raise a family,” Commissioner Darren Gamble said.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege for me to serve as commissioner for the past 12 years,” Commissioner Paul Daniel said. “When I started I made two promises, to do the job to the best of my ability, and to do it honest.”