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Christian Academy senior Clay Carter has signed to play college basketball at Trinity Christian College in Chicago.

Rodeo organizers appeal for Internet assistance
  • Updated

Organizers of a rodeo that will stage a two-night engagement at the Jefferson County 4-H Fairgrounds next month came before the County Commissioners on Wednesday with hopes of landing enough funding to make immediate improvements to the Internet connectivity at the fairgrounds where the event will be held.

Elle Troutman and Tayler Rinehart, organizers of the Wild West Rodeo Show that will take place Sept. 23-24 at the Jefferson County 4-H Fairgrounds, requested $50,000 from the county’s American Rescue Plan allocation to help pay for Internet access for the fairgrounds, which is needed for the event to be broadcast live on the Cowboy Channel and RFDTV.

“Anybody who’s been to fairgrounds knows there is not any great Internet,” said Troutman, noting improvements are needed soon if the Cowboy Channel and RFDTV are to broadcast the rodeo live as is customary. “Being able for it to be streamed live is important to all of us.”

Troutman said she has been working with Spectrum to addressed Internet issues at the fairgrounds, and a coax site survey determined “it won’t host what’s needed for the rodeo.” She said the livestream requires a fiber-optic cable to support the necessary bandwidth for the broadcast and one does exist on a utility pole near the fairgrounds so “it’s matter of running that cable to the fairgrounds.”

She said Spectrum has agreed to match $25,000 in construction costs and explained that her $50,000 request was to provide a $25,000 match for Spectrum’s construction costs and a two-year commitment to assist with monthly charges since the service cost is more than the fair board would be able to afford. Troutman stated monthly charges for Internet service would range from $300 to $1,300 per month with the highest rate being during bigger events such as the rodeo and county fair.

In addition to what Troutman and Rinehart are asking from the Commissioners, another $7,382 was raised during a recent 4-H livestock auction with those funds earmarked as part of the effort to improve WiFi access at the fairgrounds.

One question that was raised Wednesday is whether the funding request would be eligible for ARP funds. Troutman suggested that it could be permissible by designating the fairgrounds as an Internet access location to be utilized by everyone, particularly in the event of school shutdowns due to the pandemic. She said students could visit the fairgrounds to utilize WiFi access for online classes. “You would not only have the Internet for the rodeo or for special events or the fair, you would have it in place in case of a county-wide emergency that would provide high-speed Internet for multiple uses.”

Troutman said organizers hope the rodeo will grow annually and develop into a week-long festival providing local entertainment and supporting tourism. She said rodeo is “a big draw. It’s great for tourism and great for the county as well.” With the rodeo coming up next month, Troutman said “time is of the essence” for a decision on the funding.

The Commissioners indicated they will take the matter under consideration, and work to provide an update to Troutman and Rinehart at their next meeting on Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Jefferson County Public Safety Center.

Parks Board hears report on Oak Hill plan
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With streets, sidewalks and storm water drainage improvements well underway at Madison’s Oak Hill neighborhood, Madison Parks Board on Wednesday held additional discussions on how to make the neighborhood park better serve residents of Oak Hill and the hilltop.

Parks Director Matt Woolard outlined several proposed park improvements scheduled to begin soon as part of the overall $2 million reinvestment in the 40-year-old housing development.

“We are excited to be working with the local community to reinvest in this asset and look forward to transforming it into a destination park and example of what our intention is with our other neighborhood parks,” said Woolard.

“This is one of our neighborhood parks that we have identified within our master plan that needs updated,” Woolard added. “It’s suffering from decades of deferred maintenance. Investing in this seems the appropriate time and opportunity to really give back to the community for the people in that area.”

Woolard said the 1.7-acre Oak Hill Park — the only neighborhood park on the city’s hilltop — is surrounded by 245 immediate users, and 5,000 other users within close proximity. Currently, the city is rebuilding all sidewalks, curbs and gutters while resurfacing and making drainage improvements throughout the neighborhood.

After talking to residents of the Oak Hill community about their wants and needs for the park, Woolard said the priorities include new sidewalks, basketball courts and a shelter house located in the center of the park. Another priority is creating parking to make the site more accessible.

Woolard describe the current playground at Oak Hill Park as “abysmal” and equipment and surfaces are “inappropriate” and “unsafe” for children.

Funding has been allocated to fence the entire facility to just one or two points of entry for better security and safety.

“Overall, this will be a secure facility, much like how we did with Hargan-Matthews Park (at Vaughn Drive and West Street) with the gate entry points that the child cannot run out after a ball or something into the middle of the road,” Woolard said. Within the park there will be additional fencing for a secured dog park to serve the hilltop on a smaller footprint than the city dog park located on Vaughn Drive downtown.

Woolard said the park plans call for benches, shade structures, picnic tables and trash cans.

Preliminary drawings for the park show a pickle ball court but Woolard said that facility is not included in the initial phase of park improvements but is planned for a second phase that could occur in the future. The park also does not include restrooms.

He said there have been discussions with three companies concerning new playground equipment — Columbia Cascade Company, Komplan and Sinclair Recreation.

Columbia Cascade primarily deals with timberform. “This is a more rugged, outdoor, wooded-looking structures,” Woolard said. Komplan Concept Designs offered two designs with each including climbing structures. He characterized Sinclair Recreation as a playful art structure with various design elements.

They are “examples of what we have put together” but no decision has been made on what playground equipment will be selected, Woolard said.

Woolard said with proper upkeep and maintenance playground equipment can be long-lasting. However, he said the existing equipment at Oak Hill “hasn’t been touched in decades. That’s without proper maintenance. Most of stuff is in decent enough shape but it’s not changed with the times. This is something that with proper upkeep and maintenance they can last for a few decades.”

Woolard said that All-Star Paving, the contractor on the overall project, will lay out the park, along with construct the sidewalks. “That will be the last step of that overall streets project,” he said. “Once they’re done with that, it gives us free reign to start on our projects” with Oak Hill Park. The plans are to have the work in the park completed by next summer.

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney said there is a fundraising element to the plan for the park. Woolard’s presentation indicated an estimated $400,000 budget for the Oak Hill Park — $220,000 in city funding and $180,000 from fundraisers, private funds and grants.

“This has been uninvested in for such a long time,” said Courtney. “This is a whole new way of doing things with a complete revitalization of that neighborhood” through the infrastructure project. Now, they can also revitalize the park “and serve a lot of people.”

In other business:

• Since the board’s June meeting in June, two of the four board members have resigned, preventing a meeting in July due to a lack of a quorum until at least a third member was named. At the start of Wednesday’s meeting, Courtney issued the oath of office to Jake Shockley as the newest parks board member, replacing Zac Laughlin who still resides in Jefferson County but has moved outside of the city limits.

The other board resignation was Joe Bronkella, former Madison Consolidated High School athletic director, who left that position to become athletic director at Center Grove. A board replacement for Bronkella still needs to be appointed. Bronkella had served as the parks board president, and his resignation resulted in the election of new officers. Previous vice president Carla Krebs was elected president and Phil Kahn was elected vice president.

• Woolard said the Daughters of the American Revolution have a project for landscaping at the original fountain location at John Paul Park. “They’re just trying to beautify that area because it is a massive fountain area that’s no longer in use. They’re working through what that will look like.”

Woolard said the paths have been refreshed at the park by the street department and work is underway to restore benches and lighting. “We’re trying to keep John Paul Park with the theme it was intended to be” as a walk-through park “to take you out of everything else going on, and just relax and enjoy that scenic route.”

• Woolard reported that plans to repair the Crystal Beach pool are still in the design phase. “We are actively working at that at this time. It’s just taking some time, and we’re doing our due diligence to make the best decisions we can with what we’ve got.”

Courtney said the “structural integrity of the pool itself is compromised” and a plan is being developed to “extend the pool availability to the community for the next 50 years. It’s an 85-year-old pool that’s come to the end of its useful life. That requires a lot of engineering, a lot of geotechnical, a lot of design, architectural, and requires a financial plan. It’s a multi-million-dollar asset to the community that we have to make the proper investment in.” Courtney expects a plan for the pool to be proposed in the weeks ahead.

• Krebs inquired about progress on the historic buildings at Pearl Park which have been in a deteriorating condition. Jan Vetrhus, a member of the board of directors for the Jefferson County Historical Society, updated that discussions have been taking place now that the Jefferson County Preservation Council, which had been responsible for the buildings, is no longer functioning. Vetrhus said all of the buildings are now secured with locks.

Carrollton awarded $176K grant for sidewalks, road resurfacing on Clay Street
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The City of Carrollton has been awarded $176,056 in state funds for sidewalk construction and road resurfacing and is included in a grant award to Charter Communications to expand high-speed Internet to Carroll and 12 other Kentucky counties.

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman presented $176,056 from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) to the City of Carrollton for use on a project to build a modern, accessible sidewalk along four blocks of Clay Street. The award comes through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC).

The new sidewalk would connect with a larger network of pedestrian pathways to improve access to essential services and government buildings such as City Hall, the Carrollton Police and Fire Departments, Carroll County Courthouse, Three Rivers District Health Department and Carroll County Memorial Hospital.

“This project will drastically improve traffic safety in our community,” Carrollton Mayor Dwight Louden said. “Some of our citizens lack transportation and walk out of necessity. There sometimes are people walking in the roadway or just off the road. It’s an obvious risk factor and it can be distracting to drivers.”

“This project reflects high priorities of my administration promoting good health and traffic safety and keeping us connected as fellow Kentuckians,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. “The TAP program funds projects that give people safe alternatives to driving in certain situations. Whether for walking or bicycling, these improvements promote good health and contribute to cleaner air. The health benefits have a ripple effect.”

While in Carrollton, Coleman also presented Carroll Fiscal Court a second check from KYTC for $43,732 toward resurfacing of various streets in Harbor Lane Estates.

“Local streets and roads are as important as interstates and parkways to the people who live on them and use them to get to jobs or school or shopping or places of worship,” Beshear said. “I’m happy we’re able to provide this funding to benefit residents of Carroll County.”

Meanwhile, a total of 18 grants were awarded to Charter Communications totaling $49,980,694 to expand high-speed Internet to more than 18,000 currently unserved households and businesses — include Carroll and Trimble counties along with Henry, Oldham, Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Jefferson, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Shelby and Spencer counties in Kentucky.

In addition, the City of Warsaw in Gallatin County is receiving a $54,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) award to be used at the Warsaw Sports Park to help construct an accessible restroom and concession facility, complete with a picnic area. The money will also go toward installing new, ADA-compliant playground equipment.

County using rescue funds to upgrade road equipment
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Funds from American Rescue Plan will be used to make about $500,000 in upgrades to equipment needed by the Jefferson County Highway Department.

County Commissioners on Wednesday approved the allocation to purchase new equipment.

“I greatly appreciate it,” said County Highway Superintendent Bobby Phillips, noting that he was “able to move very quickly on some of the equipment that is available that we can put to use this year.”

Phillips said that is good news for the county. “The timing could not have been better” for the funding to purchase the equipment. It will be nice to put this equipment to use” to help the highway department to more efficiently serve the county.

The purchases include a Case 521G wheel loader at a cost of $165,886.18 and a Case 856C motor grader for $268,586.18. Both are new pieces of equipment.

The other two purchases were for used equipment — a New Holland TS6 boom mower for $86,500 and a Peterbilt semi tractor truck for $52,000. Phillips said the truck is a 2014 model that will replace one manufactured in the 1990s “that’s in need of some repair.”

The four purchases amounted to $572,472.36, which is actually more than the $500,000 provided in ARP funds but Phillips said there was other money available in the highway department budget that had been approved for equipment costs.

Harsin named interim chancellor at Ivy Tech Madison
  • Updated

Ivy Tech Community College has named Amanda Harsin interim chancellor of the Madison campus.

Harsin will assume her new role on Monday and serve in that position while the college undertakes a national search to replace Molly Dodge, the Madison chancellor since 2017 who was recently named Ivy Tech’s senior vice president of workforce and careers and also begins those duties on Monday.

Harsin has served as the vice chancellor for academic affairs since 2017. Prior to that, she was a department chair and associate professor of communications. She has served as an adjunct or full-time instructor with Ivy Tech since 2007 and was awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Instruction in 2016. Harsin holds a PhD. in Health Communication, Theory, and Research with a minor in Nursing from IUPUI, a Master of Arts in Communication Theory from the University of Kentucky, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Hanover College.

A national search is underway to fill the chancellor role, which is estimated to take three to five months.