Court discusses race relations, primary
Woodford Fiscal Court Tuesday began with Judge-Executive James Kay asking for a moment of silence for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the law enforcement officers and protestors across the country who lost their lives last week. Kay praised Versailles Police Chief Mike Murray, VPD Assistant Chief Mike Murray, Sheriff Johnny Wilhoit and Deputy Ricky Vaught for helping set a positive tone for the peaceful protest at VPD headquarters June 1. Kay said the department’s motto, “Serving all of Woodford County,” means every citizen, no matter their color. He said he and the two mayors have appointed a diverse selection of people to city and county boards, and noted that Magistrate Larry Blackford (Dist. 6), elected in 2018, is the first African-American to serve on Woodford Fiscal Court. The county has the highest level of minority representation on boards and commissions in history, Kay said. He credited Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott for backing the VPD’s efforts to obtain body cameras for every officer on duty. (A related story is on the front page.) “In Woodford County, we believe that every citizen is deserving of a healthy, vibrant, and loving community,” Kay said. At the end of the meeting, Blackford, who gave the invocation at the VPD rally, thanked the organizers of the event and praised the spirit shown that evening. Magistrate William Downey (Dist. 5) said he echoed Kay and Blackford’s sentiments and that we must all willing to listen, learn and come together for the betterment of all. County Attorney Alan George said he’d been working with local and state law enforcement officers for almost 39 years and believed they cared deeply about what they’re doing and whom they deal with. New polling place Kay said County Clerk Sandy Jones was conducting election officer training that evening and unable to take part in the court’s meeting. Earlier in the day, he and Jones announced that Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center would be a second polling precinct for the June 23 primary. (The story is on the first page.) The proposal was approved by the bipartisan county Board of Elections. “I really encourage people to absentee vote …” Kay said. “The more people that show up on Election Day to vote, the higher the risk of spreading (COVID-19).” Absentee ballots can be dropped off in a secure box in the courthouse, and in-person voting there, by appointment with the county clerk’s office, is also available. At the end of the meeting, George said he’d been voting since 1973 and found the mail-in ballot experience to be the “easiest and best I’ve ever had.” Copier contract The court voted 7 to 1 to pay Sharp NJPA $8,791.50 for copiers and related equipment, with Magistrate Matt Merrill (Dist. 3) voting no. Kay said improved scanning and emailing capabilities are important with more employees working remotely. The county will seek reimbursement under the CARES Act, Kay said. Homeland Security grant The court unanimously approved a motion requesting Kay to execute and sign documents allowing the county to accept a $147,000 grant from Homeland Security for improving cybersecurity in the courthouse and other county facilities. Polo Run The court voted unanimously for a zoning map amendment involving Polo Run subdivision that was recommended by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission. The amendment will allow 11 rural residential lots on 45 acres in the Troy Pike subdivision. Varner reappointed Kay’s nomination of former Woodford Fire Chief John Varner for a three-year reappointment to the Woodford Fire Protection District Board passed unanimously. Insurance, workers comp The court unanimously approved paying the Kentucky Association of Counties’s (KACo) All Lines Fund $206,299 for insurance on county-owned vehicles, property and employees. It also unanimously approved paying KACo a $182,032 premium for workers compensation. Both policies cover fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1. Announcements At the end of the meeting, several magistrates said they’d toured the new Woodford Emergency Medical Services (EMS) headquarters on Big Sink Pike (aka Sturgill Simpson Way) and were impressed. Magistrate Mary Ann Gill (Dist. 7) said it came in under budget, was energy-efficient, and would be the envy of other EMS departments. Downey praised EMS Director Freeman Bailey and his employees, as did Merrill, Magistrate Kelly Carl (Dist. 4) and Kay. The instruction facility there could host training sessions for other EMS departments, Merrill said.