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Letters to the editor

Using local assets Editor, The Sun: Traditional community economic development focuses on recruiting new business and industry. Versailles has seen recent successes with More Than a Bakery and the new hotel. Another approach, often called economic gardening, concentrates on existing assets. It focuses on achieving growth by leveraging existing aspects of the community which encourage business growth, retention, and creation. Other than the land recovery that opened up the hotel site and other potential plats, we have been less successful in this area. There are a number of situations which highlight weaknesses in this regard. The downtown pavilion idea seems to have died a quiet and unnoticed death. With the exception of some possible micro-projects, much of the Lexington Road corridor remains a singularly unattractive approach. Despite rich education resources, adult education is nearly invisible. Land use discussions seem to be trapped in deadlocked arguments over the bypass and the urban services boundary. There is little if any discussion of what we have - just how to either get more or else to prevent more from happening. Are there areas where focusing on what we have already might find breakthrough opportunities? Consider an apparent liability like the highly visible old Kroger store. The adjoining Versailles Brewery project and the new smoothie store are great examples entrepreneurship, but the continued vacancy of the Kroger space presents a significant drag on the entire complex in this important gateway to the city. Three examples could demonstrate the potential of developing this space as a positive community asset. One could be to actively incentivize an entrepreneurial entertainment center. The space could accommodate a complex including such things as small bowling alley, indoor batting cages, a grill, and maybe an indoor miniature golf course or a well-designed indoor archery range which would support local school archery programs. This would add year-round recreational activities, employment, and tax revenue. More speculatively, the space could be developed as a business incubator modeled after Lexington's Awesome Inc. and the Plantory. This could leverage a possible public-private partnership with KCTCS without the unrealistic notion of a branch campus. Encouraging successful start-ups is hard but ultimately better than simply trying to steal businesses from other communities. Finally, in a purely public initiative, the space could become a signature community center along the lines of the Pritchard Center in Elizabethtown. Multi-purpose rental rooms, a catering-level kitchen, electronic conferencing facilities, public services, and an adult education center worthy of the county would provide significant enhancements to our business climate, general public services, and quality of life. Open, transparent discussions around asset-based opportunities such as this or recent speculations about the coming vacancies in the courthouse square are an essential and efficient strategy for community growth and avoidance of the deadly drag of empty spaces. David L. Arnold, Ed.D. Versailles High cost Editor, the Sun: I am the product of a public-school education, and I am in favor of a strong educational system. What I am not in favor of is an exorbitant property tax increase to pay for a new high school, the need for which, in my opinion, has not been made clear. Perhaps my Woodford County neighbors are doing far better financially than I. During the recession nearly a decade ago, my wages actually dropped, then remained stagnant for years before recently inching back up. Despite this, food, utility, health, and insurance costs have risen dramatically, as have property taxes. My annual property taxes go up at least 5 percent each year, and now we are being asked to endure an additional 6 percent (or more) annual increase over the next 20 years? Double-digit annual tax increases year over year for the next two decades? In my experience, quality of education depends on commitment from the student and his/her parents and teachers far more than from the building in which it is received. Sure, it would be nice to have a high school with "more natural light, wider hallways, and taller ceilings," as documented in last week's Sun. It would also be nice to have a citizenry that is solvent financially. As capacity is not an issue for the immediate future, this new high school seems something less than a necessity. It is unfair to assume that holding three meetings at times when most people are just getting home from work is adequately putting this proposed tax increase in front of the people of Woodford County. Instead of continually throwing out the line that this tax hike would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $60 per year, let's get realistic. Nobody lives in a $100,000 home these days. Let's have the school board mail out a notice to every property owner in the county, detailing the appraisal price of their property and exactly how much this tax increase is going to cost them annually, as well as over the 20-year period of paying off the bond for the new high school. Then let property owners vote on whether they want to each pay the thousands of dollars this project will cost them. Perhaps a fairer proposal would be to lessen this tax burden on property owners by sharing the load with parents of students actually using the facilities. Lenny Shulman Versailles Thieves Editor, The Sun: Well, it's finally come to a head ... Equifax Credit hacked! Several years ago, I started getting calls from people from one end of America to the other. It was called "card holder services" and I was told I have $4,000 on four major credit cards and they will work with me at 10 percent interest. I started laughing and said they had me mixed up with someone else. I was told, "Oh, no, it's you." I asked for the name on the accounts and was told, "I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to tell you. I said, "You can't even tell me my own name." He said, "No." That was the first caller. I was in a phone confrontation with him for 20 minutes. He cussed me out in a language I could never decipher in a hundred years. All calls are the same except for cussing. The last one I talked to sounded about 15 years old. I finally asked where they got their information from, and they said Equifax. These people call numbers at random with the bodacious lies of a get-rich-quick scheme through extortion. I'm sure all the other Americans had sense enough not to fall for this. Janet Zarmbus Versailles

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