Officials in Lynch have turned to the county for help in providing matching funds for a grant to restore the old fire station. But city officials said the county judge has issued them an ultimatum - that they believe is criminal!
The Lynch mayor said what the county judge said to him falls under criminal coercion. The county judge said he was just encouraging a compromise.
It started with an old fire station in Lynch that needed new life.
"As an enhancement to the Portal 31 project," said Taylor Hall, Lynch mayor.
City officials in Lynch turned to the county for help in getting the thousands of dollars they needed.
"I was informed by the judge that we needed to quit being stiff-necked and be cooperative," said Hall.
Hall said he was told by County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop that the city needed to change its stance against mountain-top removal.
"He has encouraged me to negotiate once again with the coal companies," said Hall.
"I was talking to them in terms of, if there are differences that need to be worked through, tell them what you can deal with, tell them what you can not deal with, and then work through those differences," said Joe Grieshop, Harlan County Judge-Executive.
Grieshop said Harlan County makes its living from coal, and if the funds will come from coal severance, everyone needs to work together.
But that answer does not satisfy those in Lynch who believe what the judge told them may be against the law.
"I was told what I could expect. I was told what I could do," said Hall, "I feel it's criminal."
"Let them proceed down that path. I have no reason to be talking to the city of Lynch on any issue now," said Grieshop.
Criminal coercion according to the state statute is a misdemeanor offense.
The Commonwealth's Attorney said issues like this usually have to be brought to the attention of their office.
The Lynch mayor said he plans to speak with the attorney's office.