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Fiscal court approves 'hero pay' for health department
  • Updated

Health department employees will get their “hero pay” after all.

After voting two weeks earlier to table a motion to provide about $128,000 in COVID-related federal funding, Anderson County Fiscal Court magistrates during their meeting last Tuesday morning unanimously approved the payout for workers.

Magistrates also approved use of the COVID-19 funding for several other projects along with a one-year contract with the Shelby County Detention Center.

Public Health Director Tim Wright attended last Tuesday’s meeting and said he was pleased with the fiscal court’s decision to provide the funding for his staff.

“I am very pleased what the magistrates and Judge-Executive Orbrey Gritton did,” said Wright, who requested the funding after seeing EMS, sheriff’s deputies and other county employees be awarded what is being referred to as “hero pay” for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My staff worked tirelessly to make sure Anderson County was as safe as possible. They gave as many vaccines as possible, delivered groceries, prescriptions, got food for people from the food pantry … I’m just happy my staff got rewarded for all they did.”

The motion to provide the pay was made by magistrate Rodney Durr, who chairs the fiscal court’s budget committee. It was seconded by magistrate Steve Drury who, along with magistrates Meredith Lewis and David Montgomery voted to table the issue two weeks earlier.

Following that vote, Lewis asked if the fiscal court was willing to vote on other projects earmarked to receive COVID funding.

“All of these requests have been on the table for months,” she said.

Those items include spending about $80,000 for new permanent backstops for the ballfields in the county park; $161,000 for new playground equipment in the county park; $125,000 for pickleball and tennis courts in the county park; and about $76,000 for two heart monitors to be used by Anderson County EMS.

Following the meeting, Gritton said those approvals leave the fiscal court with about $500,000 in COVID funds, and that the court’s budget committee is expected to discuss next month how that money could potentially be used.

The county was awarded about $4.4 million in COVID funds. Its biggest project was to earmark about $2.7 million in funding to expand broadband service into the western portion of Anderson County.

New jail contract

About two months after considering moving inmates from the detention center in Shelby County to the one in Franklin County, magistrates voted unanimously for a one-year contract to keep them in Shelbyville.

Anderson County Jailer Tasha Hellard made the recommendation, saying she negotiated with the jail to keep the per-day rate for inmates at $33.

Hellard said earlier this year that she was having some issues with the detention center accepting inmates with health concerns but was able to solve those by discussing them with the head nurse of the company that provides that service.

“She sent out an email and we haven’t had any issues,” she said.

Hellard said the $33 daily rate is low when compared to what other detention centers are charging.

“We are below the state average, so we are in a good situation,” Gritton said following the meeting. “Tasha has done a great job in communicating with us. She was on top of this contract and did a great job keeping our rates down. I’m super proud of her.”

‘Misery’ coming to Bearcat Theatre

Anderson County Community Theatre (ACCT) opens the play adaptation of Stephen King’s “Misery” June 24. With plenty of gore, suspense and intensity, viewers are sure to stay engaged through the cast’s upcoming performance.

“Misery” follows the kidnapping of famous writer Paul Sheldon after being pulled from a crashed car by his number one fan, Annie Wilkes. Wilkes holds Sheldon captive in her home while forcing him to write a sequel to his latest publication, “Misery’s Child.”

Even though “Misery” only has a cast of three, the show’s planning, production and rehearsals have been no easy feat. With a grueling schedule, along with multiple COVID-19 scares and precautions, the actors have been dealing with a very crammed schedule.

Community theater veteran Breck Reliford, who portrays leading man Paul Sheldon, highlighted the difficulty the cast faced getting together. Since none of the actors are Anderson County residents, rising gas prices proved to be a challenge.

“The hardest part is just, I mean, you know getting together,” Reliford said. “But once we get here, it’s all great.”

Rehearsals started in April, but technical support such as microphones and small lighting cues were used for the first time June 16, just one week before opening night. Though there are small changes director Angi Robinson hopes to make before opening night, she is confident in her cast’s ability to deliver a stellar performance.

“It’s not a finished product, but it’s pretty good. Once we add sound effects and lights, that will make all the difference,” Robinson said.

One change Katie Followell, who portrays Annie Wilkes, hopes to see? “More blood.” During rehearsal June 16, Followell decided to take a practice run with prop blood during a physical scene. Her scene partner, Reliford, said he was “totally freaked out” and was worried he had hit Followell in the nose.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, actors had to follow strict precautions to keep each other safe. This made up more physical scenes difficult to portray onstage.

Followell said she is excited to finally be able to get up close and personal with her fellow cast mates, since the COVID-19 pandemic did not allow such close acting. Reliford shared that he is happy to be back with his theater family after two and a half years.

“I think COVID changed your DNA a little bit and made it hard to do this kind of stuff,” Reliford shared. “It’s nice that now I can get back onstage with my theater family which is big and happy.”

Jim Neeley, who portrays Sheriff Buster, has previously worked with Reliford on almost a dozen performances. Neeley and Reliford agreed that “Misery” takes an emotional toll on all involved in the production. Neeley originally auditioned for the role of Paul Sheldon but, said he was relieved when it went to Reliford instead.

“Angi picked the two perfect people for these roles,” Neeley said. “I auditioned for Paul and [Robinson] picked Breck, I was excited to just kick back and play Buster.”

Mayoral candidate’s name stricken from ballot
  • Updated

A candidate who filed to run for Lawrenceburg mayor had his name stricken from the ballot last Thursday afternoon in Anderson Circuit Court.

Judge Charles Hickman made his ruling after determining Kendrick Lawson was not a resident of the city, thereby making him ineligible to seek the office in this fall’s general election.

Incumbent Mayor Troy Young filed a motion to have Lawson removed from the ballot just days after the filing deadline for the seat expired June. 7.

The hearing lasted just 10 minutes and featured only one witness, County Clerk Jason Denny.

Lawson did not attend the hearing.

Young’s attorney, David Nutgrass, questioned Denny and showed him the document Lawson used when filing for the office, which listed his address on Lock Road.

Denny confirmed the document’s authenticity.

Nutgrass then provided the court with documentation from the Property Value Administrator’s office, showing that the address Lawson used when filing does not receive a property tax bill from the city of Lawrenceburg.

Hickman then ruled on the matter, saying Lawson’s name will be stricken from the ballot. Because the ballot for this fall’s election will not be filed until later this month, today’s ruling means Lawson’s name will not be included. Young will now run uncontested in the election.

Nutgrass, who serves as the attorney for the city of Lawrenceburg, said after the hearing that he was not representing Young in that capacity.

Waiting game
  • Updated

The developer of a motorsports complex and its opponents will just have to wait.

Following nearly an hour of oral arguments from attorneys representing both sides, Circuit Court Judge Charles Hickman said he is taking what they said “under advisement” before deciding what could be the facility’s fate.

Hickman did not set a date for when he will announce his ruling.

The hearing underscored the drama that has unfolded for more than a year after developer Eddie Carey purchased property formerly owned by the Anderson County/Lawrenceburg Economic Development Authority and announced he was building a motorsports complex that will host truck and tractor pulls, a dirt oval track for races and other events.

His announcement set off a firestorm of criticism from those who live nearby and a neighboring business that hosts weddings and other events.

The owners of that facility, along with a couple dozen homeowners, have sued the Anderson County Board of Zoning Adjustment (BOZA), which after several months of heated and boisterous meetings, granted Carey the conditional use permit he needs to operate the facility on property zoned for light industrial use.

It did so, in part, because despite the prohibitions on noise and dust, another part of the zoning ordinance says a conditional use permit can be granted in industrial zones for any other business allowed in a business zone.

That permit, and the way it was granted, was front and center during last Thursday’s hearing as attorneys on both sides argued its legitimacy.

“You have to reverse this case,” attorney Bill Moore said to Hickman while representing the complex’s opposition. “Don’t just send it back (to BOZA), tell them they just can’t do it.”

Moore went on to argue that the BOZA decision was arbitrary and ignored the zoning requirements for property zoned for light industrial use, which forbids the escape of noise, dust and glare.

“This facility is going to make so much noise, you’ll be able hear it over the entire south end of the county,” Moore quipped.

Moore went on to argue that along with being arbitrary, the BOZA board failed to produce findings of fact in its decision.

“They need factual findings that this will promote the health and safety of the community,” Moore said. “They had the opportunity to make findings and they didn’t. Not a single finding of fact.”

Moore also argued that BOZA exceeded its authority to make the decision and that because nothing in the zoning ordinances specifically mentions a motorsports complex, providing a conditional use permit was improper.

“When you look at the zoning ordinance, it says nothing about race tracks or monster truck pulls,” Moore said, noting it does mention recreational facilities.

“They are making that much broader,” he said.

“Your decision should not be to remand this [back to BOZA], it should be to reverse it.”

Attorney David Nutgrass argued in favor of the complex, saying the only thing arbitrary in the case is the zoning ordinance itself.

“It checks all the boxes much more than the complainant’s venue,” said Nutgrass in reference to the owners of the wedding facility getting a condition use permit to build it in a light industrial zone. “[A wedding facility] certainly isn’t in that ordinance.”

Attorney Thomas Nienaber took over in defense of the complex, noting that by holding a total of eight hours of hearings over the course of several meetings and setting a list of conditions for the permit, BOZA did create findings of fact.

He also argued about separation of powers between a legislative body and the courts.

“There are many cases where courts could say they wouldn’t do it that way, but there is great deference afforded to an administrative agency,” Nienaber said.

Nienaber said there are plenty of cases in Kentucky law that conclude a specific type of business does not have to be named in a zoning ordinance to be allowed.

“An ordinance is nothing more than a guide for development, not a strait jacket,” he said.

“In this case, BOZA looked at the category and interpreted what that means. They have that ability. BOZA set conditions against noise, dust, hours and traffic and made a decision in its power to include a motorsports venue.”

Nienaber went on to argue that the decision was not arbitrary.

“Was there no due process? That’s not the case,” he said. “Was it erroneous? No facts are cited that it was clearly erroneous. When making an appeal, it is incumbent on the plaintiff to say a different outcome is needed and they have made no such case. It shouldn’t be set aside or altered in any way.”

“The focus should be on the industrial zoning,” countered Moore. “That’s the issue in this case. We’re back to is this decision arbitrary? Can they go as far as they did in this case? We say they can’t.”

A proper send-off

A Lawrenceburg teenager was honored last Friday as she prepares to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Reece Oliver, a recent graduate of Christian Homeschoolers in Lawrenceburg, was lauded by U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (R-Lexington) during a ceremony Friday in Lexington, along with other area students accepted into military academies.

“On behalf of Kentuckians in the Sixth Congressional District, I want to thank each of these young men and women for volunteering to serve their country,” said Congressman Barr. “After four years, these students will join the ranks of the greatest military officers in the world. I will be praying for their success and am forever grateful for their service.”

A daughter of Jim and Julie Oliver, Reece is scheduled to report for duty at West Point on June 27.

During an interview following her high school graduation, Reece said she made up her mind to go to West Point as a 12-year-old and never looked back, even attending Army basic training between her junior and senior years in high school.

“It made me fall in love with the military way of life,” she said. “I loved the order and the discipline. That really appeals to me.”

“We are very proud of her, of course, but her getting accepted wasn’t entirely a surprise,” said her mom, Julie. “She’s always been self-motivated and a very dedicated individual.”

News launches new website

Getting news about Anderson County just got easier.

The Anderson News now has a new, user-friendly website to keep Anderson County residents informed about their community.

The site launched last week following months of planning, and replaces the outdated site the paper has used for more than a decade.

The site features all of the news posted in each edition of The Anderson News, along with breaking news and a host of other features. Those features include a user-friendly calendar of local and regional events, top videos from across the country and up-to-the-minute news about the stock market.

“We are very happy to launch this new website,” said Ben Carlson, the paper’s editor and publisher. “We are the first to acknowledge that the old website, a relic of the previous company that owned The Anderson News, was outdated and needed a significant upgrade.

“When Paxton Media Group purchased the paper last year, it immediately began work to upgrade our website and that work has now been completed. We are thrilled to know that Paxton Media is willing to invest not only in bringing our readers quality content, but in our community.”

Current and new subscribers are asked to click on the sign-up button on the top right corner of the site’s homepage to register their account.

To subscribe or find out more, please call Lisa at 502-633-2526.