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EARLIER: County officials still preparing for Harley

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By Lisa King

Despite that gloomy statement Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear issued last week about Kentucky's diminishing chances of recruitment of the Harley-Davidson plant, local officials continue to push forward.

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Monday morning the Shelby County Fiscal Court, in a specially called meeting, announced for the first time publicly that property in Shelby County has been targeted as the location where Harley-Davidson could move its plant from York, Pa., should the company decide to do so.

Magistrates voted to allow County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger to execute an agreement between Harley and the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation to purchase "certain land in Shelby County," on which to relocate the plant.

The motion did not state that the property is located in the Shelby County Industrial Park, but magistrates have been referring to a "client" that they have been working with for some time on two parcels of land – one owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad and he other by Jorita Family LLC – in and adjacent to the park.

Fiscal Court in September asked for a zone change from agriculture to industrial for 214 acres north of I-64 and both east and west of Joyes Station Road because of a company the county was trying to lure. The words “Harley-Davidson” were not part of that request. That has been changed.

Triple S Planning and Zoning Commission met Tuesday night to give its official OK of the zoning change and send it back to Fiscal Court for final approval.

The meeting Monday morning was just more groundwork for that action.

"This is just a paperwork issue that if in the event that Harley-Davidson would come to Shelby County that the Fiscal court would exercise an option with the Industrial Foundation, who has exercised an option with Norfolk Southern, basically allowing us to procure the land. That would be the site that Harley-Davidson would build a plant on," Rothenburger said.

He added that the county wants to be ready in case a proposed contract does not pass a union vote in York next week.

"Their vote is scheduled for December 2nd, so we have to be very diligent in our efforts to try to attract them and be ready should their contract not get approved in York," he said.

Fiscal Court and Triple S have been working together to get the property rezoned before that vote takes place.

When planners complete their process with the zoning review, they will send the matter on to County Attorney Hart Megibben to be drafted into ordinance form, so that it can be submitted to Fiscal Court for final approval at its next meeting, on Dec. 1, just one day before the vote is called for in York.

"So we are just going to keep pushing forward until we hear a more definite word out of York, Pa.," Rothenburger said.

Bobby Hudson CEO of the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation, echoed Rothenburger's determination.

"We're still hanging in there; we're not going away until it's over," Hudson said.

The York Daily Record reported Monday that the proposed union contract would put into motion a restructuring that would reduce drastically Harley's workforce in York, leaving only 700 to 800 full-time production workers there, down from about 2,000 it has now.

Harley already cut several hundred workers from its books locally during the past two years. At its peak, Harley had about 3,000 workers in York County.

The company still expects to make a final stay-or-go decision about its York operations by the end of the year.

The Daily Record said union workers still have questions about the proposed contract with Harley-Davidson released Friday after four-hour meeting at the York Expo Center.