“The state of the county is good,” Daviess Judge-Executive Al Mattingly told the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce’s virtual Rooster Booster Breakfast on Thursday in his 11th annual “State of the County” address.
“We have money in the bank,” he said. “We pay our bills on time.”
But Mattingly spent part of his address decrying “hatred, racism, intolerance and discrimination.”
“This year, even without COVID-19, has been trying,” he said. “We have seen hatred, racism, intolerance and discrimination in the headlines and social media every day. The right and the left continue to stream slick and professionally done conspiracy theories and stories of deception and fraud, so much so that we scarcely know what to believe.”
Mattingly said, “All these are designed to divide us into small factions, afraid to listen to anyone else’s opinion because we may learn something that would be contrary to what we believe.”
He said, “We live a world, reading and listening only to those who agree with our own beliefs, which in turn reinforces our own ideas, thus isolating ourselves in our own little clique where we argue about what is true and what is not, knowing that everyone is awaiting a decision on this most important question, a decision which never comes because of gridlock, neither side talking to each other and when they do, they won’t listen to what the other is saying.”
Government, Mattingly said, “can’t change what is in your heart. Government can’t change society, only you can, only we can.”
He said he supported the “fairness ordinance,” which died on a 2-2 vote at a Fiscal Court meeting last year.
“And I still do,” Mattingly said. “I think the Supreme Court’s decision back in the summer addressed some workplace issues, but accommodations and housing still need to be addressed. In my opinion, this is a community image issue and a workforce recruiting issue.”
But, he said, “Until two Daviess County commissioners ask for it to be placed on the agenda, I don’t see it going anywhere.”
Last summer, Fiscal Court voted to remove the Confederate statue that has stood on the Courthouse lawn for 120 years.
A committee was formed to find a place to move it.
In November, the committee, selected by members of Fiscal Court, recommended that it go to either the Owensboro Museum of Science and History or the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art.
Mattingly said, “Those recommendations must be vetted. I hope to have that done in the first quarter with the move made in the second quarter.”
He said, “The COVID-19 pandemic was and will continue to be the hot topic. Keeping our citizens healthy and informed as well as providing a safe work environment for our employees is No. 1 on our list of priorities.”
Mattingly said, “From providing relief to bars and restaurants having a Daviess County business license to extending the due date for paying net profits taxes, delaying a scheduled increase in occupational taxes and waiving county alcohol renewal fees, Daviess County stepped up and provided leadership.”
He said, “Collaborating with the city through joint executive orders and each contributing $300,000 to the COVID-19 Response fund, sparking another $450,000 from our community, your local governments provided leadership and your community stepped up. I want to thank the United Way and the Green River Area Community Foundation for all their hard work in getting these funds into the hands of the citizens and organizations in most need.”
Mattingly said the county secured a Real ID location in Daviess County, moved forward with a new $6 million communication system for first responders, renovated the Fiscal Court meeting room and added a “top-notch shotgun sports facility.”
He said, “Looking forward, we stand ready to continue helping small businesses in their struggle to keep their doors open and their people employed.”
Mattingly said, “We will look at ways to expand internet service into those parts of our county that are not served or are underserved by working with local providers to increase speeds and expand service. In the short term, we’ve added public wi-fi hotspots at seven volunteer fire stations to help students with remote learning.”