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A farewell to Garrard County from Ben

The Advocate-Messenger has decided to move me into a new position, where I will be designing pages for the Advocate and Jessamine Journal papers full-time, which means I will no longer be the Garrard County reporter.

I will greatly miss covering Garrard. You all have been very welcoming and open with me, an outsider, and made me feel right at home. I’m glad I could serve the people of the county for close to two years, providing as much accurate info as I could on important and interesting events and happenings. I hope if you were a regular reader of the paper or this blog, you were satisfied with the coverage I provided.

Advocate-Messenger reporter Mandy Simpson will be taking over as Garrard County reporter as I step down. She is a recent graduate of Western Kentucky University who came to the Advocate in January. She has some serious reporting chops and I have no doubt she’ll be great at covering Garrard.

Sources: You can still contact me with any story ideas or information you have, and I will be more than happy to get it into the paper or pass it along to the appropriate person. You can also contact Mandy at

Once again, thanks to everyone in Garrard County for letting me cover your news.

Audit and press release from state auditor available

Crit Luallen now has the audit (pdf) of the Garrard County Court Clerk’s office available on its Web site, along with a press release about the audit:

Auditors became aware that in calendar year 2009 an employee of the clerk’s office was able to conduct transactions and then void all or part of the transaction – resulting in 170 transactions totaling $3,247 being altered during the year and deposits being reduced to match altered records.

Auditors also identified that this same activity took place during the beginning of 2010 until it was discovered in June. For 2010, approximately 717 transactions totaling $16,714 were altered.

Total amount of missing funds auditors identified is $19,961.

Full story will be in tomorrow’s Advocate.

Auditor says $19,000+ went missing while Lane worked at Garrard Clerk’s Office

According to a report from the Lexington Herald-Leader, State Auditor Crit Luallen found that $19,961 went missing during 2009 and 2010. Elizabeth Lane, a former employee who was charged in October with knowingly entering false information into the vehicle registration system, isn’t mentioned by name in the report, but the audit details how an employee inappropriately voided all or part of vehicle registrations, according to the Herald-Leader article.

I’m getting my hands on the audit and I’ll talk with Court Clerk Stacy May tomorrow morning, then I’ll have more on this.

Waste tire bill passes house 99-0

A bill co-sponsored by Lonnie Napier and worked on by Solid Waste Coordinator Chris Thomason passed the state house unanimously today.

House Bill 433 aims to reduce some of the negative environmental effects waste tires have in Kentucky by keeping better track of where waste tires go and educating the public about the dangers posed by waste tires and how to properly dispose of them. When thrown in illegal dumps or left by the side of the road, waste tires become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and not just any mosquitoes, a very dangerous breed of mosquito that carries West Nile and other human and horse diseases, Chris said. Tires also pose a fire hazard and can be very difficult to extinguish if they catch on fire.

The bill is a small step in a much larger plan to reform how the state handles waste tires, Chris told me. During next year’s longer legislative session, proponents expect to introduce further bills that could turn Kentucky’s waste tire handling process into a national model, he said.

Full story is upcoming in the Advocate, including info from Mary Dickey, the chairwoman of Solid Waste Coordinators of Kentucky.

Garrard Judicial Center photos

I toured the new judicial center in Lancaster today, and got quite a few photos. I’ll have a story in tomorrow’s Thursday’s paper about the progress, but for now here are some shots I got while I walked around with John Wilson, Dana Hensley and the site supervisor, Todd Sadler.

Ben Kleppinger/
From left, Garrard County Circuit Court Clerk Daa Hensley, Judge-Executive John Wilson and construction supervisor Todd Sadler stand in the new Garrard County Judicial Center, which is nearing completion. The county could be moving in as soon as June, Sadler said. Ben Kleppinger/
Construction workers use a cherry-picker to work high up on the front side of the new Garrard County Judicial Center Tuesday morning. Ben Kleppinger/
From left, Garrard County Judge-Executive John Wilson, Garrard Circuit Court Clerk Dana Hensley and construction site supervisor Todd Sadler chat on the roof of the new Garrard County Judicial Center during a tour of the facilities Tuesday. Ben Kleppinger/
Outdoor light filtering through plastic sheeting and around hallways creates dramatic lighting effects in the front entrance area of the new Garrard County Judicial Center. Ben Kleppinger/
Construction workers consult a blueprint while working on the top floor of the new Garrard County Judicial Center Tuesday morning. Ben Kleppinger/
Progress is being made on the new Garrard County Judicial Center, which features a wide open entrance area.

Full results from spelling bee

I got the full results from Garrard’s district spelling bee typed up, in case anyone is interested or wants to see how well they might have done in the bee. Click the image below to enlarge.


Refuge chamber tests in March could lead to new jobs in Garrard

Mine Shields will begin tests to get its mine refuge chambers certified by the Mine Safety and Health Administration on March 21, CEO Connie Hendren told me today.

The tests will take about four weeks to complete (April 18 is exactly four weeks from the starting date). When Mine Shields first came to Garrard County back in April 2010, it announced it would employ about 35 people initially, but that as many as 200 could be employed and a second Garrard location opened if the company was able to get its refuge chambers MSHA-certified.

No company had received MSHA certification yet when Mineshields announced its plans, and as far as I know, that’s still the case. I couldn’t find any news articles online saying otherwise.

If Mine Shields becomes the first certified mine refuge chamber producer, it means the company would have a national market and something of a monopoly until someone else is able to pass MSHA-certification muster as well. The potential market opened by certification is what Mine Shields based its estimate of at least 200 jobs in Garrard County on.

Boil Water Advisory for Garrard

UPDATED: This boil water advisory has ended.

From the Herald-Leader:

The Garrard County Water Association in Lancaster has issued a boil-water advisory for all customers living along and off of High Bridge Road in northern Garrard County.

The advisory is due to a water-line leak, which is being repaired.

Customers are advised that water for human consumption must be boiled at a rolling boil for three minutes to be safe for drinking or food preparation.

The advisory is in effect until further notice.

Garrard resident has food remedy book published

Garrard Countian Lori Rice has a book called “The Everything Guide to Food Remedies: An A-Z Guide to Healing With Food” that’s been published and is going to be available for sale nationally soon. It’s already available for pre-orders at, and you can read some of the beginning through Google Books here.

Reenactors want to stage a takeover of the courthouse

Byron Teater with the Battle of Lancaster folks has proposed that Lancaster and Garrard County allow a reenactment of a confederate takeover of the courthouse, Judge-Exec John Wilson told me today. Details from Teater are still to come, but apparently the reenactors would enter the courthouse and stage taking the tax roll — the list of all the taxpayers. This was a strategy of confederate soldiers during the civil war to make it harder for local union governments to collect taxes.

The reenactors would then raise a flag representing the confederacy on the flagpole outside the courthouse, underneath the American flag. The fiscal court basically tabled any motion on the suggestion today, telling Teater it wanted a month to think about it.

It also told him he needed to confer with the Lancaster City Council concerning additional outdoor events on the square, since most of the responsibility for allowing those events would rest on its shoulders, John told me.

Stay tuned for details when I get them.
UPDATE: I just got some details from Byron on what he hopes will be an extra preliminary event before the main Battle of Lancaster event.

Battle of Lancaster folks would put together a leather journal with fake names and records that would represent the county’s tax roll. By stealing this from a courthouse, confederate soldiers made it difficult for union forces to know who had and had not already paid their taxes.

Four or five confederate reenactors would come into the courthouse with guns and powder but no ammunition and “demand the tax roll,” which would be located in John Wilson’s office. That would be about it.

There would also hopefully be a reenactment of a skirmish on the town square, similar to several battles but not modeled after any particular one, and a flag-raising ceremony, where reenactors would raise the “Confederate First National” flag, which was the real confederate flag for the first two years of the war, Byron told me.

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