Middlesboro council approves TextMyGov, hears fire department updates

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Middlesboro Mayor Boone Bowling introduced TextMyGov as a texting tool to simplify communication between the people and the city government at the Middlesboro City council meeting on March 21.

The city of Middlesboro can keep people informed with important updates, news, and events. Those who sign up can text in keywords like festival, parking, ticketing, and more. The AI can answer a question or send a link from the city’s website with additional information.

“It’s a really good communication bridge for the public as well as us, especially during emergency services where we can send out a mass text throughout the city to warn like with what we saw last month with some of the wind as well as some of our flooding,” Bowling said. “It’s extra backup protection, and it’s a great way we can communicate.”

Email newsletter signup

Citizens can report code violations, public works issues like potholes, signs down, drainage problems, tree trimming, sewer issues, and more. People can start a workflow, engage with appropriate agencies, and give specifics regarding location, address, street name, etc.

The council approved using the text alert system for text message notifications for emergencies, upcoming events, road closures, and other announcements. TextMyGov’s mapping feature can allow local governments to send alerts to citizens by a defined radius.

“This program gives us an opportunity to communicate what’s going on whether it’s weather or it’s an outage, and my understanding is we can also do it in certain areas of town as well. Whether we have a flood and a bad area on the southside or whether it’s in [oldtown] we can send them to different areas,” Bowling said. “If there are any outages, we can also communicate that for water as well, or anything, it’s a swiss army knife and a tool for whatever we need.”

The council also amended the renters’ incentive application process and approved the changes to the application.

“At this time, there is no monies left in that account, but as we move forward working on the next fiscal year budget starting next month and we will be looking at ways to be putting money back into that account,” said council member Judy Grandy.

Previously, the city would pay $1,000 on a business’s rent for six months if it were new to the main street area within certain specifications. Some of the changes to the application process included changes such as that amount being dropped down to $500 in rent being covered by the city in a six-month period and a presentation of a copy of the business license during the application process.

Council member Brad Cawood also commented that the Middlesboro Water Plant is running on 90s-era wifi.

“Their whole plant is taking numbers getting data collecting data talking to Frankfort, and uploading huge files,” said Cawood.

“I checked their internet services, and they had approximately .28 upload, which is about what I had in 1997 here in Middlesboro. It’s about a little bit better than a 56k modem. When it rains a lot of the time, which is when we need their internet to be the strongest, it goes out on them.”

Cawood pointed out that the plant can only do its jobs effectively and efficiently if they have the proper equipment. The council discussed getting a hotspot for the plant until they can decide to put down cable or fiber internet.

Middlesboro  Fire Chief Robert England reported on ways they’re dealing with employee retention, such as success with parametric programs handled within the department.

England said the fire department has new trucks set to be delivered the last week of April or the first week of May and an ambulance on hold order for roughly 22 months.

England asked to go ahead and order a new ambulance to get one step ahead of the repetitive 24-30 month delays, which have now turned into 36 to 42-month delays.