Local leaders look back - and ahead
With 2016 barely in the rearview mirror and 2017 just underway, The Sun asked the top three local elected officials to share their thoughts on the good and bad of last year - and what they hope to accomplish this year. Judge-Executive John Coyle "I hope that the economic trend continues on, and the More Than A Bakery folks get up and going and (we) continue with the getting of businesses in Midway Station (and) of course, the Castle and Keys Distillery down at Millville. We got a lot started last year and I hope that we . get our jobs back that we lost when the factories closed - Kuhlman (in 2009). Just continue on with what we started last year. That's certainly good for the county and it's good for each individual city as well," Coyle said. Coyle said he agreed with the two mayors that intergovernmental relations between the three entities were better in 2016 than the year before. "I think that all of us have our constituents in our hearts and minds and want what's the best for the county, and of course, the mayors represent the folks inside the city limits. Yes, I think we have a good working relationship, or I feel like I do with the two mayors, and I hope that continues. I see no reason why it shouldn't," Coyle said. Asked if there were any disappointments in 2016, Coyle cited the clock tower atop the county courthouse, which, though the clock works, could cost hundreds of thousands to restore. "We certainly need to get that project started and completed," Coyle said. On the other hand, Coyle said he was proud that Woodford Fiscal Court voted to spend money to pave the parking lot of the Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center. "I think all in all, we had a good year last year and look forward to bigger and better things in the new year," Coyle said. Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott Traugott quickly ticked off a list of good things that happened in Versailles in 2016. "We had the official More Than A Bakery announcement, the Holiday Inn Express acquired land, started focusing attention on the heroin problem, choking off the dealers. A private group (Raising Awareness Woodford County) to lend support to those . suffering from the disease of addiction. The last council meeting, of course, we made big steps towards the location of a new police station, which is a big deal," Traugott said. Traugott also cited a federal grant to add three full-time firefighters, which he said will allow the department to be fully staffed. Traugott cited two "setbacks" in 2016: the lawsuit over the Edgewood property "which kind of put a halt to some plans that I think would have made the city better, stronger," and losing state funding for the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor. "Both of those are beyond my control and the city's control ." he said. For 2017, Traugott said he hoped to see more progress on the proposed downtown pavilion. "The pavilion concept, or something similar, has dragged a little slowly. I'd like to see a lot more energy put towards that - reenergizing, reforming, improving downtown. I would like to see the ground broken on the police station (on the property of the former St. Leo's School, which the city hopes to purchase). I'd like to see our revenues continue to climb, which they should," Traugott said. Traugott also said he believed the improved working relationship between the cities and county will be maintained. "I think 2016 was good for intergovernmental relations and I think everybody's understanding each other better, and our perspectives, and I look for that to continue to improve in 2017," Traugott said. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift "Certainly, breaking ground and getting American Howa Kentucky up and running was exciting," Vandegrift said when asked about the "good" in 2016. "There was probably no bigger announcement than Lakeshore coming into town with 300 jobs . I think all the park improvements, really, a total transformation of our city park was an enormous accomplishment by a lot of volunteers in 2016." Capping the year off, Vandegrift said, was the footbridge built across Lee's Branch in Walter Bradley Jr. Park. "And then we did some nice, important road paving and we got a new sidewalk program in place and hopefully that work's going to be completed in the spring," he said. Asked about disappointments in 2016, Vandegrift cited a lack of progress on restoring the city's old water and sewer lines. "The problem doesn't exist in just one area, it's over most of the city, and the problem is, 'How do we do that without raising taxes? . We don't have the funding in place just yet," he said. Vandegrift said he hoped to begin to tackle the problem this year. "It all works together. So as we increase revenues and get more users in our water system, we can hopefully start to bring costs down and we can make improvements without raising taxes ." he said. Vandegrift said despite unsuccessfully lobbying for regular meetings between elected officials of the three governments, leaders got along better last year than the year before. ". Even when we hit little snags, we're able to work them out pretty quickly," he said. His goals for 2017 include further progress on the city's sidewalk improvement program and the "proper build-out" of Midway Station. "We can sort of walk that delicate balance of creating new jobs, but also preserving some attractiveness and beauty as you come into Midway. We don't want it to look like Box City, U.S.A., so to speak," Vandegrift said. "I think that's going to be a big focus this year."