• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

Traugott announces police chief pick

At the end of Tuesday’s Versailles City Council meeting, Mayor Brian Traugott announced that Versailles Assistant Police Chief Mike Murray was his choice to succeed Chief James Fugate, who will retire at the end of August.

Traugott said he had the “utmost respect and admiration” for Murray and would make the nomination at the council’s next meeting on Aug. 7, after which the council will vote on the matter. Versailles Police Det. Rob Young will be Murray’s assistant chief.

Murray told the Sun that he’ll begin his 30th year in law enforcement on July 24, and joined the Versailles Police Department in February 1995.

Downtown pavilion

The council voted unanimously to pay a total of $24,500 to two Lexington firms to serve as the design team for the proposed downtown pavilion and market place. The money will come from the city’s downtown renovation/improvements fund. According to a joint letter from the firms, they’ll work with the city’s Pavilion Committee on programming, site layout and grant funding. Committee Chair Ann Miller said CMW, an architecture firm, and GRW, the city’s engineering contractor, each offered key skill sets.

Before the vote, the council unanimously passed a resolution stating the intent to learn whether the police station can be repurposed for the project, as Council Member Ken Kerkhoff said the city of Greenville did with an old building.

Traugott said he was still concerned about the perception that there wouldn’t be enough nearby parking, and that he didn’t know whether the price for the CMW/GRW contract was good or bad. He wondered whether the product would do much more than replicate a $15,000 feasibility study in 2015 by the firm that designed the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion in downtown Lexington, calling that study “junk.” Kerkhoff said he supported the deal. Miller joked that she hoped she’d be kept on the committee after her term ends at the end of the year; Traugott jokingly noted that attendees seemed to be holding their applause about her departure.

Downtown parking

Traugott said he was receiving complaints from both sides of the Court Street parking issue. He said the two-hour limit on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. was not being enforced and that he’d directed Fugate to begin to do so, after which he began getting complaints from people who’d been ticketed.

After a few minutes of discussion, Traugott said the signs would remain, along with enforcement, and that he’d send letters to the business owners and others on Court Street.

Troy Pike annexation

The council unanimously passed an ordinance annexing 55.89 acres off Troy Pike a little more than 600 feet southwest of Southland Drive.

According to Steve Ruschell, an attorney for the developer, about 148 single family homes will be built on the land, which is near Southside Elementary.

Groundhog days

Margaret Harp, who lives near the old Woodford Middle School and county bus garage, spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting. She said groundhogs presumably ejected from their former home at the torn-down old Woodford County Middle School have infested her lawn and are under the house.

She said she was 81, twice-widowed and had two disabled sons, and that last year, she paid a contractor $150 to remove a few groundhogs. New holes have popped up since. She said she couldn’t afford to pay “critter people” to remove the animals.

Traugott said he and Public Works Director Bart Miller had visited her home the day before and saw a groundhog. He said state laws didn’t allow unlicensed people to transport or shoot the animals. After a few minutes of discussion, Traugott, Kerkhoff and Ann Miller said they’d help her get rid of the animals, perhaps by dropping “groundhog bombs” she’d purchased in the holes and sealing them.

Street paving

After the required public hearing on the council’s plans for using state road funds on city streets, during which no one spoke, the list of streets to be paved was unveiled.

It includes Macey Avenue, Nancy Street, Duell Drive, Douglas Avenue, North Locust Street, Bell Court, Depot Street, Virginia Avenue, Old Dry Ridge Road, Howard Court, Tilford Alley (east of Locust Street) and Kentucky Avenue. Large patches will be applied on Rose Hill Avenue (near Park Street) and Elm Street (near Camden Avenue), with work on Broadway Street being a Columbia Gas-reimbursed project.

Tourism Commission appointment

The council unanimously confirmed Traugott’s nomination of Lee Howard, one of the heads of the firm that owns the soon-to-be opened Holiday Inn Express and Suites, to the Woodford County Tourism Commission. Kerkhoff noted that the Holiday Inn Express will soon be providing room taxes that will fund the commission.

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