Inaugural State of the City

Photo by Bobbie Hayse | McLean County News McLean County elected officials sit on the McLean County High School Auditorium stage Aug. 1 during the inaugural State of the City/County to begin, as Amanda Dame, McLean County Chamber Commerce President, explains to the crowd how the night is planned. During the event each of McLean County's mayors, the school district superintendent, the judge-executive, the county attorney, and the PVA were given 15 minutes to speak about their respective areas.

If there was anything the 100 or so people who attended the first annual State of the City, County event Aug. 1 in the McLean County High School auditorium took away from the forum, it was that McLean County may be small, but it is mighty.

At least that was the consensus of the eight elected officials and public figures who spoke during the event that was hosted by the McLean County Chamber of Commerce. During the event, those individuals were given 15 minutes to talk about their respective cities, departments, or areas of expertise, whether that be concerns, issues or to celebrate successes, or update future plans.

Along with the McLean County city mayors who spoke were County Attorney Donna Dant, Judge-Executive Edward West, McLean County PVA Dale Ayer, and McLean County Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Burrough.

Calhoun

Calhoun Mayor Ron Coleman said the biggest issue in the city is water loss, with the city losing more than 300,000 gallons of water per month. He said even after finding and fixing leaks, the city is still seeing a large loss of water so officials there are continuing to work to find the source of leaks.

He said there were discussions earlier this year about building a new sewage plant, but due to cost, plans instead were focused on rebuilding the current plant, at a significantly cheaper cost.

"That project is currently in the bid stage and expected cost of that is about $100,000," he said. "I think that's a better decision for us."

In April, he said, the city repaired 62 potholes in Calhoun and still had about $200 left in the street repair fund.

"We are still working on and trying to improve things," he said.

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"I think the people of Calhoun ought to be thankful that they have a council that works together and are willing to take the concerns in the city to heart."

Sacramento

Stopping water loss is also a goal in Sacramento, said Mayor Betty Howard. The city recently purchased new water meters and has plans to purchase more to help deal with the city's 23-24% consistent water loss rate.

Along with that, Howard said she would like to continue the progress already made in bringing more commerce to Sacramento, as she was instrumental in helping to bring a Dollar Store, a pizza restaurant and a pharmacy to the small town. The city also has purchased some land on which they hope to build what Howard called a "pocket park" in the near future.

Being a mayor is a thankless job, she said, but she hopes to make a difference.

"We just strive to continue every day, and make our little cities better," she said.

She encouraged citizens to attend the monthly city commission meetings or to send her a message regarding any issues or concerns or praises.

Island

Vicki Hughes said Island may only be home to 450 people, but that she and the other commissioners work hard at making it a happy and fun place to live.

Hughes, the city's mayor, gave a listing of the various happenings ongoing and upcoming in Island, including an Aug. 9 catfish dinner at God's House of Hope and the Island Wooden Bridge Fest that is coming up Sept. 14. She said seniors are in the city hall on Mondays and Tuesdays for food and fellowship, and the Island Heritage Garden is almost complete near the city's mural building.

"We also have the Dairy Freeze, with the famous Island burger," she said. "And if you haven't eaten an Island burger, you should definitely go."

She said one of the fields at the Island Ball Park was recently dedicated to Bobby Veach, a major league outfielder whose daughter traveled to Island from Michigan to celebrate. She said volunteers have been working hard to update the ballpark so that it can be put back into the rotation of area games.

"We may be small, but we make things happen in Island," she said.

Livermore

Livermore Mayor Jesse Johnson also bragged on his city with updates about the Livermore Riverfront Park, which includes a new walkway.

He mentioned the enhancement foundation working toward making Livermore a trail town, an initiative that he is hopeful will be realized by next year. He also mentioned the new splash pad in the city's Depot Park.

"We like to give young people things to do," he said.

He also advanced the upcoming drag boat show that is coming up Aug. 31- Sept. 1, and the Sept. 28 Riverfest and Car Show.

County Attorney

County Attorney Donna Dant said most people don't have contact with the county attorney's office, but she listed some of the things they do there, from guardianships and mental health cases to the collection of delinquent property taxes, to name a few. The county attorney's office is also the legal adviser to the McLean Fiscal Court.

She said in fiscal year 2018, the county attorney's office received the outstanding performance award for its child support collection. As of the close of this last fiscal year, the office ranked 14th overall in all the 120 counties in Kentucky in collection of child support.

As of this month, the office has done 18 total mental health cases, 11 of those being disabilities and seven of those being commitments. They have handles 44 DUI cases.

"With respect to cold check collections, that has declined in the last several years," Dant said, adding that in 2017 the amount collected from checks was $3,900, $2,650 in 2018, and currently is at $650. "We are getting less cold check referrals in our office, and that may be due to expansive use of debit cards."

McLean County PVA

Dale Ayer, McLean County PVA, said he, along with Joy Campbell and Steve Hatfield, make up the staff of the PVA office, and "certainly we are proud to serve you in any way we can."

"That service is made a lot better by the outstanding individuals of Joy and Steve," he said. "They do an outstanding job, and I'm very proud to work with both of those folks, and just tickled to be there with them."

He said the PVA office takes care of a variety of functions, including being responsible for the assessment of real property in the county, as well as maintaining accurate property ownership records.

"We certainly enjoy working with our other county officials across the county, as we are preparing tax information right now for those folks, and glad to do that," he said. "We enjoy that working relationship we have with the folks across the county. It certainly has been a privilege, and is a privilege to serve as PVA in the county."

Judge-Executive's Office

McLean County Judge-Executive Edward West started his speech by saying that he, and the others on the stage, work for the citizens of McLean County, which is a key part of what they all do. He went on to describe the struggle it was being appointed to the judge-executive position when the county needed to create its $6 million budget, and was facing some strict financial woes.

"We had to figure out how to solve these problems," he said, listing a few changes already in place to help the county get out of its financial rut.

For one, the county has put a hiring freeze into place. They have also set up a purchase order system where in the past there was none, and eliminated single-fund accounts.

He said the population in McLean County is dropping, which is decreasing the tax base, and therefore revenue coming in. He said there are some difficult days ahead, but he and the fiscal court are working tirelessly to make the best decisions for the citizens of the county.

McLean County Public Schools

Tommy Burrough, McLean County Public Schools superintendent, said the district's student population is decreasing, which comes with its issues. He said the district mainly loses students to homeschooling.

To help combat that, and to hopefully provide more opportunities for students, he is in discussions with the school board to create the McLean Alternative Center that is scheduled to open one year from opening day this year.

"I would like to have a McLean Alternative Center for kids to have another way to get a diploma," he said, adding that these days kids learn in a variety of ways, and some of them might need another route to education.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

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