With the end of the year approaching, I thought it might be fitting to share a few of the county’s accomplishments for the year, as well as a few facts about county government you might not know.
Like every year, 2011 brought with it a mix of progress and challenges to county government. The county road system had its share of both. Fiscal Court was able to blacktop about 9 of its 200 plus miles of county roads this year. We were fortunate to receive a special one-time appropriation of $200,000 from Governor Beshear, which we added into our normal budgeted blacktopping allocation. With the cost of blacktopping a mile of county road between $60 and $90,000, depending on width, the extra funding sure helped.
The heavy spring rains left us with four major slides on our county roads. The worst of these occurred on Union Church Road, which split in the middle and dropped about four feet for a distance longer than a football field. The county was able to secure FEMA and NRCS assistance to help pay the bulk of $300,000 plus that it cost to fix these slides.
The goal of straightening HWY 146 came a little closer to reality this year when the preliminary engineering designs were presented this fall. Hopefully after some planned further public input the state will nail down the final design soon. We are appreciative of Representative Rand and Senator Harris for their help in obtaining the funding for design, right-of-way, and utilities relocation. I am hopeful that the 2012 session will bring the funding for construction of this much needed project.
While the Judge/Exec and Fiscal Court have little control over the everyday maintenance of state roads, we do get a lot of calls pertaining to state road issues. When we get these calls we do our best to either answer the question or refer the call to the appropriate person. If you are reading this and do not know if you live on a county road or a state road, the following is a good rule of thumb. If it doesn’t have a yellow stripe in the middle it is probably a county road and if it does then it is probably a state road. There are only a couple of exceptions to this rule.
We continue to see growth, both in use and features at the new County Recreational and Services Park. One area we are getting a lot of positive feedback on is the walking trail. We received the last part of a $50,000 Recreational Trails Grant this fall, which helped put the final cap on the trail. At almost any time of the day you can see someone enjoying a walk or run along the trail. Our parks crew just recently finished building a picnic shelter near the football and soccer fields. My hope is that we can add a few more of these shelters in the future as it is something that seems to be in demand by the public and is not to terribly expensive to construct.
If you have passed by the park recently you may have noticed a building going up. This is the new Henry County Health Department. Completion is expected on the facility around the middle of 2012. For those of you that might not be aware of how to go about it, if you are interested in renting a park shelter, the 4-H building, or the Arena at the fairgrounds, you would call my office to make a reservation.
We continued our efforts in 2011 to clean up our beautiful county. The annual 1st Saturday in November litter pickup saw 26 teams collect 1313 bags of trash on 210 miles of roads. These “not-for-profit” teams earned $100 a mile for their respective organizations. This money is available thanks to a state litter grant that our County Solid Waste Office secures each year. In addition to this work, our Solid Waste Officer and state inmates pick-up roads each Wednesday, weather allowing.
In October it was the county’s turn to host the state tire amnesty program. This program which is funded by a fee on new tires has done a tremendous job of getting tires out of our streams and sinkholes. This year Henry County citizens disposed of 13,891 tires. As a testimony to the effectiveness of the program this is just a fraction of what we collected in past tire amnesties. For those of you who are not already recycling and want to start, there are recycling bins located at the County Road Barn, and at most of our schools and towns.
Fiscal Court took some new steps in 2011 to encourage economic development. Last February a “summit” of sorts was held which included members from the state Economic Development Cabinet, area Economic Development Reps, elected officials including Mayor Jerry Abramson, and Commercial Developers to advise the county on what steps should be taken to put an effective economic development program in place. As a result of the meeting, Fiscal Court hired a professional facilitator to guide a County Economic Development Committee on putting together a strategic plan. We are nearing the end of this process and some formal decisions should be forthcoming.
In order to “competitively” recruit commercial and industrial business you have to have appropriate sites. For the most part they need to be close to the interstate and have all utilities, including sewers. It pleases me to report to you that work is almost complete on the 61 acre Commerce Park in Campbellsburg. The dirt work, road, and sewer installation are now all in place, with only the electric and water to go. This infrastructure was made possible in large part by a $294,000 Federal appropriation that Congressman Geoff Davis obtained for the project.
The year had many other highlights including a $150,000 grant for a new animal services facility, a tough decision on a new courthouse, the retiring and hiring of a new County Treasurer, and even a special election for jailer. All of the above and much, much more made it anything by a dull year in County Government. As we begin 2012 we will continue to strive to bring you the best roads, Emergency Services, Parks/Fairgrounds, Planning & Zoning, Animal Services, County Facilities, the cleanest county, and the best overall promotion of our county that we can. We will do this, while making sure we do not exceed the limited financial resources we have available. As always if you need anything please feel free to call me here at the office at 845-5707.
May God bless you in 2012.