• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

Court discusses RR museum request

Representatives of the Bluegrass Railroad Museum asked Woodford Fiscal Court Tuesday to release the county’s “right of reverter” clause on .89 acres to help them obtain a loan with Community Trust Bank in order to build a locomotive barn.

The proposed loan is for $250,000 for 25 years.

Cassie Barnes, the attorney for the private, non-profit organization that operates at the Woodford County Park, said in the unlikely event that the Bluegrass Railroad Museum ceased operations, the county would have first dibs on acquiring the land from the bank.

County Attorney Alan George said that would mean that the county would be repurchasing land it had deeded to the museum.

Barnes said the organization is a “profitable non-profit” with a proven financial record. Bluegrass Railroad Museum Director John Penfield said last year, the volunteer-run museum made a profit, and that the current loan, of which about $36,000 is still owed, would be refinanced to borrow the money for the locomotive barn. He and Barnes told the court that if the museum went under, the county could take possession of the $300,000 depot building built by museum supporters.

Magistrate Duncan Gardiner (Dist. 6) wondered whether, if the museum folded and the county chose not to exercise its right of first refusal on the land, it could be purchased by anyone. Barnes said yes.

The conversation took up nearly a half-hour, and George and Barnes agreed to negotiate further, with George taking the concerns of magistrates into the meeting with Barnes.

In a letter to the court, Barnes said the locomotive barn would allow the museum’s equipment to be repaired, restored and stored indoors, and that its fair market value is projected to be $600,000.

Shyrocks Ferry turnaround

The court unanimously approved a motion directing Coyle to order the installation of a turnaround at the end of Shryocks Ferry Road in a 60-foot dedicated right-of-way as soon as possible.

Earlier in the meeting, Road Engineer Buan Smith informed the court that David Dean and Sally Droste, the owners of 2925 Shryocks Ferry Road, had not signed a proposed agreement on a matter he didn’t describe. Last year, Dean and Droste asked the court to make the final 180 feet of the road (where they live) private, and the court held a public hearing on the discontinuance of the road in December.

In December, Dean and Droste told the Sun that they’d installed a gate on the road in 2010 with the encouragement of Jason Walton, the then-supervisor of the Versailles Water Treatment plant. In October, at the request of Coyle, they stopped closing the gate, which controlled access to the raw water intake and pump station for the nearby water plant.

Tuesday, Smith said Dean and Droste told him they were going to have an attorney look into “the whole situation.”

Reached for comment Wednesday morning, Dean said he didn’t have the agreement Smith spoke of in front of him and preferred not to comment.

Electrical usage

The court followed up on the discussion at its last meeting about the use of courthouse electrical outlets for Court Street block parties and other events.

Coyle said in a pre-court meeting with Versailles Assistant Police Chief Mike Murray, he recommended that the permits issued by the city closing Court Street not take effect until after business hours. He recommended that permit-seekers sign a release form absolving the county of liability should an accident involving the outlets occur. In return, the county would allow the plugs to be used and not charge a fee for the electricity. George would draft a release form, Coyle said.

A motion to that effect passed unanimously.

Budget

The court heard a summary first reading of a proposed budget for fiscal year 2019, which begins July 1. A copy of the document was not made available to the Sun.

Benefits

Personnel Director Devetta Jackson got the court’s unanimous approval to sign a new employee health insurance contract with Humana costing up to 11.7 percent more than the present year. She said negotiations continue, and that the county may still get a better deal.

Asked about the increase, Jackson cited higher claims than premiums for the last three years.

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