Wilmore and Nicholasville mayors share community updates at legislative breakfast

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2024

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The Chamber of Commerce hosted a legislative breakfast in the Central Bank Community Room. Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater and Nicholasville Mayor Alex Carter presented updates at the breakfast. 


The tables were filled with Chamber of Commerce members, the public, and officials from the Health Department, Camp Nelson, Jessamine County Public Library, and non-profits.

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“I’m a hometown boy. I haven’t gone very far,” said Rainwater, who has been Mayor of Wilmore for 48 years. He is also the Equine Program Director at Asbury University and an associate professor. 


He started the breakfast with a presentation of updates on Wilmore’s projects. First, Rainwater discussed the renovation of the old school– now home to Wilmore’s municipal center. It was the Providence School for a while, but when Providence moved back to Nicholasville, it became an abandoned building project for Wilmore. 


This is the oldest of the projects mentioned since it was completed in 2020. In addition to the Mayor’s office and the City Council meeting place, the municipal center is home to a Jessamine County Public Library branch, the community development board, Wilmore Parks and Recreation, a county clerk’s office, and a spare 911 office that Jessamine County Emergency 911 can use when needed. Also run out of this building is a private school in the basement, and sports games are hosted daily in the building’s gymnasium. According to Rainwater, the extra non-government elements run out of the municipal center, which allows Wilmore to run the building almost for free. 


Due to staffing issues and equipment costs, the Wilmore City Council recently voted to privatize Wilmore sanitation services. Rainwater said he expects pushback on this but that the cost of running a small government continues to grow. Only about 6,000 residents pay taxes, and because so much of the town’s property is owned by Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary, very few property taxes come into the municipality. 


Rainwater said the 100-year-old Granary building, once Camp Nelson’s flour and grain supplier, is now at the forefront of downtown revitalization. Possible plans for this building include a museum, a community center, and business spaces. 


The building was purchased before the pandemic, and in 2020, Wilmore received a $500,000 grant to repair its roof. Phase two is underway since the city allocated $200,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the project and just acquired another community development block grant for $750,000 to repair door and window openings, utilities, and any holes in the building so its integrity is maintained through the winter months. After that, the city will seek a certificate of occupancy.


The final update from Mayor Rainwater was the rest of Wilmore’s downtown improvements. The City Commission put $250,000 in ARPA monies into downtown revitalization. The Jessamine Journal reported on the plans for this project, which Banks Engineering will complete. In this legislative breakfast, Rainwater reiterated these plans. 


Nicholasville Mayor Alex Carter has been in office for over a year and and was previously a commissioner for the city for four years. He addressed the crowd next, explaining that Nicholasville is the ninth-largest city in Kentucky and the fifth fastest-growing city in the state.


He agrees with Rainwater’s point that it is challenging to keep police officers with large nearby police departments in Central Kentucky. To circumvent that, he mentioned that since 2019, the Nicholasville City Commission has increased the starting salary for police officers by 25 percent. 


“We just try to be proactive about our city’s needs,” Carter said.


Mayor Carter mentioned the extension of Maple Grove Cemetery, which the Commission voted on in 2021. The cemetery now holds 7,000 people’s remains. 


The city also recently finished its wastewater treatment facility plan, revitalizing the facility that will serve the town for decades. 


In addition to a new website, the city is also funding its renovation project. The old jail, on the corner of Chestnut and South Main Streets, is a joint project between Nicholasville and the county. The newly painted light blue building will be home to the City and County Tourism Department—Visit Jessamine. Carter said the building may also host pop-up shops, events, artists, food trucks, etc.


Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater shows breakfast attendees Wilmore’s “most historical building” the Old Granary. (Photo by Gillian Stawiszynski)