‘Good to be together’
County and city officials hold joint meeting
Last Tuesday, city and county officials came together in the Jessamine County courthouse for a meeting to keep each other informed on where the community is at and where it is headed as a whole.
“Mayor Rainwater had mentioned awhile back that we used to get together and give each other updates, and sometimes it is just good to be together,” Judge-Executive David West said.
West went on to say, that if all forms of government work together, they will be successful. The meeting served as a way to catch one another up on project updates and to invite others in the community who work alongside the government to help achieve its goals.
West was there to give an update on economic development in the county and said all surplus industrial land owned by Jessamine County Economic Development Association in the old industrial park was no more, so it became necessary in the last year to purchase new land for economic development.
This property is located on HWY 27. West also said that sewer has been extended to the industrial park with plans to service two lots, with AAA Trucking and a new potential industrial prospect that cannot be disclosed at the present time.
“Engineering is underway to provide roads, water, electric, gas and fiber optics that is being included in most developments,” West said. “Expansion to the West end of the Industrial Park will accommodate the parks newest clients.”
Phase one construction is expected to be completed by mid-December. The building authority used the sale of land to help cash flow, West said. The county will also receive a $375,000 in CBDG recaptured funds from capitalized equipment which will be used to retire debt.
A few of the new jobs in place for the future of economic development in the county, West said, include 36 new jobs have been brought to the area to help with Camp Nelson National Monument. Aviation Safety Resources is in the former Jackson Plastic building and will initially employee 12 people but will transition up to 100, West said.
“I think you can see this is a very exciting time in Jessamine County,” West said.
Parks & Rec
“We’ve got a lot of things going on in the parks & rec department right now,” director Duane McCuddy said. “In no particular order, I will go over some of the bigger things we have going on.”
McCuddy said the department is starting its yearly basketball and cheerleading season. It has partnered with Jessamine County School system and when McCuddy first started out he said 25 to 60 kids took part in the parks & rec department though Jessamine County schools. This year, the department is expecting 600. The volleyball program has just started, and they are looking to take on 120 children in that program alone.
McCuddy said the department is in the preliminary stage of building a splash park at the City County Park with new bathrooms that will be handicap accessible.
“We keep our gym open at the Coolidge building and that is a big plus for our seniors in winter time that need to get out and walk. The doors are open every day,” McCuddy said. “We will continue to have open gym when time permits.”
The department will be participating in the Halloween events in town and plans to have its annual turkey strut in November.
“Finally, I just want to thank all you guys and girls and your continued support of Jessamine County and your sponsorship,” McCuddy said.
Transportation task Force
Nancy Stone, coordinator of the Transportation Task Force, spoke to those in attendance at the meeting and started by saying it was so good to see faces she had not seen in awhile. Members, she said, have a vested interest in the county.
“When the money we get from the state and federal government is determined, to be spent, it all goes into a pot and someone has to make a decision,” Stone said.
Work is currently underway in Wilmore, on the Nicholasville Bypass, and West said some big-ticket items are being addressed like the Third Street bridge that finally has funding.
“We are not a whole lot better, but we are a little bit better,” West said.
Chamber of Commerce
Ronda May spoke for the local chamber and said a bunch of new businesses are coming to town. May said the chamber is benefiting from a new insurance plan that has made it possible to gain several new members in the last few years.
“It is a great way for us to promote who we are,” May said.
Upcoming events include the downtown Nicholasville Trick or Treat and St. Nich Fest. Both are annual family friendly events. The chamber’s annual dinner will be on Jan. 23 in the R.J. Corman hanger.
“We are always looking for other ways that we can reach out and make our community aware for our members,” May said. “One way is our pop-up shops. You may have seen it if you have been driving down Main Street. Some of our businesses who don’t have store fronts, are utilizing our store front for them to promote what it is they do.”
Mitchell Pearson spoke on local tourism which is funded by a 3 percent room tax with the tourism goal, “heads in beds.”
“We are working with LEX 18 with a marketing effort,” Pearson said.
The new marketing effort will put tourism commercials for Jessamine County on platforms like Roku.
“The problem is Kentucky is a pass-through state for people who are traveling further south,” Pearson said. “We are a good day commute for a majority of the United States population. We are seeing a lot of people from Ohio and not only are they passing through, but they know people in Kentucky.”
The tourism department is targeting specific groups that enjoy horse country and different atmospheres that Kentucky as a whole does very well.
“The easiest way to brand us is ‘vineyards, victory and venture,’” Pearson said. “It is what we do best from Camp Nelson to all the best places we have.”
Pearson said a project that he has been working on since he came on board is with Air BNB, which he thinks is a great opportunity for the county. Pearson is currently working with local attorneys to help make all of the properties that are on Air BnB in Jessamine County collect the 3 percent tax for revenue which will go to local tourism.
Jessamine County Schools
One of the initiatives going on in the community, Supt. Matt Moore said, is to make sure that graduates of JCS are successful. State results were also recently released rating JCS at 3 stars out of 5 for performance.
“If you could give partial stars, we are probably at a 3.75,” Moore said. “Specifically, what that means for Jessamine County is we graduated 91.4 percent of our students last year and that is 3 percent higher than the state of Kentucky and a percentage point higher than last year.”
Moore said another thing JCS is proud of is how well they transition students from school into the real world.
“Last year we had 67.2 and this year 70 percent of our students met some sort of standard saying they were ready,” Moore said. “Our ACT scores were (also) higher than state average.”
Moore said JCS has embraced getting back to a solid form of education. Making sure students can read, write and do math at their grade level has been a primary focus over the last few years, Moore said.
“Our elementary students are performing higher than they ever have in all three of those categories,” Moore said. “We are very proud of all of them.”
Jessamine County Schools has also been identified as one of the top three schools in the state for safety measures taken to ensure the protection of its students, Moore said.
“That is a combined effort from the Wilmore Police Department, the Jessamine County Sheriff’s Office and the Nicholasville Police Department,” Moore said. “This year, what we will accomplish by the end of the year is all of our schools will have secure vestibules. We have also doubled the amount of time officers are spending at our elementary schools.”
Moore said 300 cameras have also been installed throughout Jessamine County Schools and the Nicholasville Police Department now has real time access to those cameras to ensure students safety.
“I appreciate everything that everyone does and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this district,” Moore said.
City of Nicholasville
Nicholasville Mayor Peter Sutherland said that the city has issues with sewer and water that are currently being discussed and dealt with, but the biggest thing the city is facing is growth.
“That is what we are dealing with in Nicholasville and Jessamine County,” Sutherland said. “We have great partnerships, and I honestly don’t know why anyone would want to live anywhere else.”
Sutherland said a new fire station is in the works for the city in Brannon Crossing as well as a new police station on Main Street.
“We are pleased that we can do that,” Sutherland said. “This commission, I am really excited to work with them. One of the things that we looked at was do we build a new city hall, or do we need to take care of our people. We felt like the most important thing is to take care of our officers and to get them in a position to where they can do their job effectively.”
City of Wilmore
Mayor Harold Rainwater said, even though their city is smaller, they deal with the same kinds of issues as the City of Nicholasville and Jessamine County Fiscal Court.
“We have six of the best council that I have probably ever served with on the council right now,” Rainwater said. “I have people that have been with me 35 years… We have about 35 employees, but we have some of the dearest people serving Jessamine County that are deeply rooted and care about our community.”
Rainwater said Wilmore is a little different as far as what drives the economic engine.
“What drives us is a little bit different,” Rainwater said. “What is really exciting is we have seen a historical resurgence of little businesses.”
Rainwater likened the shops coming up in Wilmore to shops that consumers would see in Brannon Crossing or the Lexington mall.
“I encourage you to come and see what is happening over the hill,” Rainwater said.
The old granary building is one of the best projects Rainwater said he has had the privilege to be a part of since he took his position as mayor. This year, Rainwater said the “More Tales” event brought more than 1,000 people to the town.
“Festivals are big for us,” Rainwater said. “The remaining festivals, I would encourage (all of) you to come to.”
Jessamine County Fiscal Court
Bringing the meeting back full circle, Judge-Executive West said changes in the county include new sheriff vehicles and new ambulances.
“It seems like there is always battles for employees,” West said. “We have updated a lot of our road department equipment. We have got jail renovations going on.”
Renovations to plumbing will also take place at the Jessamine County Detention Center. The Jessamine County Court House is also under construction and receiving some updates, including some statues in need of repair.
“It is going to look like a gloried paint job to the general public, not that it wasn’t needed but there is a lot of structural issues and a lot of preventative maintenance,” West said.
A census committee for 2020 needs to be formed, West said, which is very important because it determines how much money the state will send to help fund the efforts going forth in Jessamine County.
“Thanks for coming,” West said. “It is always good to be together with people that really care. I don’t think that there is anybody that cares more about their people than the people that put themselves on the front lines and that is you guys for serving.”