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By Carmen Ensinger
Benton and Associates Engineer Greg Hillis presented two pay requests to the Winchester City Council at the Jan. 4 council meeting and reported that the mild weather, prior to this week, has resulted in the work progressing nicely on the Winchester Library addition.
“We have had some great weather up to now and been able to make some really good progress,” Hillis said. “They finished the excavation, footings and drainage work, poured the foundation walls and floors in the basement in December.”
Because they did not have a pay request ready for the November meeting, Hillis presented two pay requests to the council for approval this month – one for the work done in November and one for the work in December.
The Library Board met the previous night, Jan. 3, and approved the bills, which then went to the council for approval. The pay request for November was in the amount of $30,193.75 and the one for December was for $103,888.12. Both of these pay requests go to Trotter General Contracting.
Hillis also reported that the work on the application for the Downtown Grant is almost completed and is due in on Jan. 10. This is a 100 percent grant, meaning the city does not have to put up any matching funds if its application is selected. The city is requesting approximately $1.5 million.
“We feel we got a good jump on it, but there is one part of the application that we need your input on,” Hillis said. “The city can put money towards this grant and if you do put some money in towards it you will get additional points on the application.”
The $1.5 million requested in the grant application will install new concrete all the way around the square as well as put in new water mains under the square along with new storm sewers.
Winchester Mayor Rex McIntire threw out the figure of perhaps committing $25,000 in local funding to the project and asked Hillis if they would receive more points on the application if they committed a larger amount of funding.
“The application doesn’t say how many points you will get,” Hillis said. “It just says you will get additional points if you commit local funding. I don’t know if it would make any difference or not.”
McIntire thought it was a good gamble.
“If we get the grant, it would be well worth the $25,000 we put in,” McIntire said. “We would get $1.5 million worth of work and only be out $25,000.”
A motion was made for the city to commit $25,000 of local funding to be included in the grant application. This motion passed unanimously. If the city does not receive the grant, the city is not out of any money.
Police Chief Caleb Handy reported to the council about the peeping tom/prowler that has been reported in Winchester.
“We have had several calls about it, but no concrete evidence,” Handy said. “We haven’t seen or heard anything since the complaint. I believe the attention given on Facebook and our officers being out later has helped stop it.”
McIntire said he had a conversation with the lady who reported the prowler. McIntire said the woman was out in her garage at around 3:30 in the morning when a hooded individual entered her garage, saw her and ran out.
“She made the comment to me that we need more cops,” McIntire said. “I told her that if I was a person up to no good, we can have four or five cops out, but if I see them I’m just gonna hide until they are out of sight.”
McIntire said he explained to her that homeowners have to do their part to protect their own property.
“If you don’t have security lighting around your house – get some put in,” McIntire said. “If nothing else, get the motion sensitive lighting. Nothing will scare someone off faster than a bright light coming on when they come near a place.”
Handy advised that homeowners should also invest in a good camera system for their home.
“Another thing I have been telling people is that we have to be able to identify this person and if you have a camera system at your home, like the Ring Camera System, you can get pretty good resolution on those,” he said. “That will help us identify someone who comes on your property and does something or tries to do something.”
McIntire said that someone has inquired about purchasing the building located between Pharmacy Plus and Myalyn’s Boutique.
“This individual wants to buy it, clean it up and put his office in there,” McIntire said. “The people who currently own it are from Colorado and bought it at a tax sale. It would be nice if this young man would purchase the property and take care of it for us.”
McIntire said he brought the subject up because he wanted the council to know that he had told the gentleman about the help the city would be able to offer through their Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program.
The city’s TIF program provides business with the opportunity to obtain a $5,000 grant to improve the exterior of their buildings to improve the look of the city. McIntire said the TIF funds currently has a healthy $245,000 balance.