Archive for March, 2010
Just saw this post from last Wednesday on the Garrard County Entrepreneurs Facebook page:
Hey, Garrard County Entrepreneurs! We are wrapping up an application for a USDA grant to offer training for existing and emerging businesses in Garrard County. We will cover team building, marketing, accounting, and growth/expansion. If we get the grant, the training program will begin this Fall.
The training would be offered through EKU’s Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology.
I got an e-mail from Karla Sefcak yesterday about an exciting new possibility for the upcoming Party on the Square:
Monday afternoon I got a call from Claude (from AgCredit in Louisville),
saying that if it were something that I would be interested in and I thought
would work at our party, AgCredit would like to bring “Woodsongs Festival
Stage” (Yes, representing Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour out of Lexington,
recognized both nationally and internationally) to our party
Karla is meeting with AgCredit people today to figure out specifics and such. Here’s how Karla says the addition of the new festival stage will change plans for the party:
the singers I asked to perform will each
do one number/these will be scheduled as opening numbers and between sets,
the Miss Kentucky Teen America Pageant winners will be here and be
introduced, Miss Kentucky Teen America will do a number, the Steppin’ Stones
Line Dancing Club will have their 30 minute line dancing segment, but also
there will be opportunity to dance to live bluegrass music, as the
particular songs allow.
Karla said it’s looking like AgCredit might be participating in Party on the Square regularly every year.
On Thursday, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance board officially ruled that five people involved with the wet side during the 2008 alcohol vote unintentionally violated campaign finance laws.
J. Roy Watterson from Louisville and Donna Powell unintentionally violated the law by failing to register Garrard Development Inc. as a political issues committee in a timely manner or submit election finance statements in a timely manner according to KREF’s ruling. Three other Garrard County residents also unintentionally violated the law by giving more than $50 in cash to Garrard Development Inc.
The ruling isn’t a surprise; a preliminary report showing these findings was released to the media back in September, and those involved have said they realize they unintentional broke the law and are willing to pay reasonable fines. KREF basically just made its findings official.
I talked to Emily Dennis, general counsel for KREF Thursday afternoon, and she told me the maximum fine each person could face is $5,000. She said the amount each person will be fined has not been determined yet.
The story will be in Friday’s paper.
Chris Thomason is stepping down from his position as Garrard County’s CSEPP director in anticipation of his new job as head of the Garrard/Lincoln Solid Waste Management Area. Today, the fiscal court hired Jay Overman to replace him. Some highlights from Jay’s résumé:
- Honorably discharged from the army, where he served in military intelligence for a chemical brigade out of Missouri
- Worked in Washington, D.C., for Sen. Richard Lugar from Indiana
- Has experience purchasing and inventorying large quantities of items in the area of information technology
Here’s a photo of Jay:
What is CSEPP? CSEPP stands for Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. Jay will be managing funding that comes from FEMA for emergency preparedness. He will be in charge of budgeting the funds Garrard County gets and working with local emergency responders to use the funding for training and equipment so Garrard County is ready in a “worst case scenario,” or for a disaster like last year’s ice storm.
I called Jeremy Blansett today to see how much money was raised by the chili lunch on Friday. Turns out it was $800. And that, as it turns out, was probably a very timely fundraiser.
The Red Cross was able to help the Garns today, after their house burned this morning. It cost $700 to get the Garns food vouchers and a hotel.
More good news from Jeremy: he said the national Red Cross is apparently helping to restore service to Lincoln County, which recently had Red Cross service suspended. Jeremy said more details on that would be coming soon in the form of a press release.
Don’t forget about today’s Red Cross chili lunch fundraiser. The Red Cross recently stopped its services in Lincoln County due to lack of funding and Jeremy Blansett, the area guy for the Red Cross, has said Garrard is another county where financial support is lacking. Event details:
11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the First Southern community room. Cost is $5 for a chili lunch and the proceeds go to the Red Cross.
John Wilson called me earlier today after reading the post below about Mayor Rinthen rejecting the idea of a county-run Lancaster police force. He told me that he had been discussing the potential for the idea for several weeks with Rinthen, and that Rinthen knew he was going to go public with the idea at Monday’s fiscal court meeting.
“Don has taken a part in this,” he said. “If they reject the idea that’s fine, but there’s no underhanded thing going on here.”
Wilson said he also called every council member he had a cell phone number for (4 of the 5) the Friday before he made the announcement to let them know about the idea. Council members confirmed to me this evening that they had received calls from Wilson about the idea, but that doesn’t mean they discussed it together or had any say in whether it went public.
Judge Wilson’s Facebook page has been lit up with comments about the idea, including some people in support and some (including a Lancaster officer) who are opposed to the police losing their hazardous duty retirement.
Mayor Rinthen just called me to tell me that after talking with the police department, he has come to the conclusion that he is “totally against any takeover of the Lancaster Police Department by the Garrard County Fiscal Court.”
Rinthen said he will do everything in his power for as long as he is mayor to keep the city police department. He was also critical of Wilson for making his idea public before coming to the city council privately.
“To me, it’s a very poor way to handle things,” Rinthen said. “I wish they would have brought it to the council and let the council review it and see if it’s even feasible.”
Rinthen said Wilson’s offer to save the city $100,000 would actually be more expensive in the coming year than what the city has already planned in budget cuts to the police department. Based on the budget proposals given to me by Chief Lamb, the city’s budget for the police department with a staff of eight (11 minus the two most recent terminations, minus the officer who is headed to Afghanistan) will be $638,982 — almost $50,000 less than Wilson’s proposed contract cost.
The headline pretty much sums it up. Today John Wilson told the fiscal court one option for Lancaster, which is facing some tough short-term and long-term financial problems, could be to pay the fiscal court to run police services for the city. Wilson estimated the county could run police services for $100,000 less than it will cost the city this year, based on their 09-10 budget.
The county could save the money because it doesn’t pay its deputies hazardous duty retirement like the city does, Wilson said.
The reaction I got from those around town I talked to about this — Don Rinthen, Chris Davis, Ronnie Wardrip — is probably best described as hesitant. Because it’s just a suggestion — there hasn’t been any conversation or examination of hard numbers by anyone beside Wilson to my knowledge — everyone said they would need to learn more before passing judgment.
It is an interesting suggestion though, especially since Wilson says the county could save that $100,000 for the city while re-hiring the two officers that were just laid off. Chief Lamb has proposed several budgets for his department that could save the city $100,000 or more, but all of those require downsizing the department. I haven’t been able to reach Chief Lamb to talk with him about this, and Wanda Shelton said she’d rather not comment.
Chris Davis didn’t want to say much about the issue because it’s already a tense subject, and the Lancaster police officers have already been through a lot, with terminations in December and March and an uncertain air hanging over the department. He had expected to have more time to discuss Wilson’s suggestion with the rest of the council before it went public.
It’s a valid point that throwing another option into the mix could put more stress on already stressed officers. It’s also true that this option has the potential to provide stability to a department whose chief has been asking for nothing but stability for the past few months.
Wilson wasn’t setting anything in stone this morning — he said the community needed to have a conversation about his suggestion, and then the council could pursue it if it wants to.
As Wilson said when he announced his idea this morning, “the devil is in the details.” All involved parties will likely need many more details before it becomes clear whether this idea could work.