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A fabulous 5

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By Lisa King

In 2009, Shelby Countians faced significant issues that affected their lives and their futures. Many stepped forward to lead, to create and the minister. Here are the stories of five whose special accomplishments were exemplary for the bygone year.

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Bobby Hudson, President and CEO of the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation, was instrumental in an effort that almost brought Harley-Davidson to our hometown.

Bobby Hudson has been doing what he loves right here at home for the past 40 years – four decades that have benefited his hometown in so many ways.

Hudson can look around Shelbyville and see the fruits of his labors more than just about any native son.

Since 1970, when he took over the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation, he has put his heart into economic development efforts with the goal of making Shelbyville a place where young people want to return to after college.

“Many years ago, we didn’t have much industry here, so many young people went to college and moved away, and I knew we needed to do something to attract them back,” he said. “I know people want their communities to stay rural, but if you don’t have industry, you won’t have the other things that a town needs to be self-sufficient, either.”

Hudson said the foundation was created in 1957, and, when he took over nearly two decades later, it was mainly in order to establish Guist Creek Lake as the town’s main water source. He is also proud of getting Jefferson Community and Technical College to locate in Shelbyville as well as the Budd Company, which is now Martinrea.

And his biggest pride of 2009 was almost landing a prestigious company with a long, well-known history.

Even though Harley-Davidson did not ultimately relocate its main motorcycle plant to Shelby County, the county was chosen as the only alternate relocation site, beating out all other competitors. That in itself was a huge accomplishment, one that Hudson said should not be taken lightly.

“I never saw the community come together that way before,” he said. “The city, the county, the people, they all jumped in to get things done, and I know that something good will come out of that.”

Leon Mooneyhan, CEO of the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, proposed the City Center for downtown Shelbyville.

Leon Mooneyhan was one of the leading figures in Shelby County in 2009, with his proposal of a City Center for the community.

With a long career as an educator and administrator, including 18 years as superintendent of Shelby County Schools, Mooneyhan has spent the past five years heading up OVEC, a co-op of 14 school systems that pools its resources for myriad purposes.

In 2009, Mooneyhan concentrated on making a City Center a reality for Shelbyville. He said he did not realize the kind of interest the project would generate.

“In putting together a vision and a concept, I was really blown away when we had close to 100 people come to the Stratton Center in September to hear what it was all about,” he said.

This vision for downtown, which Mooneyhan and some others presented at the Stratton Center, would create a premium convention space as well as establish a cultural venue that would help the Shelby County Community Theatre, the school system and other groups conduct performances that could be enjoyed by the entire community.

Mooneyhan said he thinks this project would really be a plus for the community.

The center’s location is proposed to be near the current Shelby County Community Theatre, at the corner of 8th and Main streets, and would incorporate all existing facilities except the downtown branch of Citizens Union Bank.

The proposal includes a conference and presentation space holding up to 200 people and also calls for a 300-seat theater.

Mooneyhan said the proposal includes maintaining the current facility (community theater) in addition to having a larger theater, and also have better dressing rooms, and an area for staging and properties and set construction.

The plan would also feature parking below grade, and the existing homes in the Historic District would be preserved.

Mooneyhan said that OVEC, which is based in Shelbyville, was a leader in the plan’s development because additional conference space in the county was appealing to the group, which needs a place to do training.

Mooneyhan said it would be advantageous both for OVEC and the community to hold conferences locally, and a City Center would make that possible.

State Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) is currently serving his fourth term in the 58th District, which includes Shelby and Spencer counties.

The lack of progress on the Shelbyville Bypass has been a source of community concern in 2009, and Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) stepped to the plate to face that issue.

Montell wrote a letter to the Transportation Cabinet demanding an explanation on why construction efforts were proceeding so slowly. The result was that outgoing Secretary Joe Prather admitted that there were problems with the contract and progress on the project. Montell’s letter helped to spur state officials to agree to a meeting with contractors to evaluate the project, a meeting that he and Sen. Gary Tapp attended.

Montell, who has continued to monitor the project, said he is hopeful that progress is back on track.

“When we held the ground-breaking ceremony for the long-anticipated bypass back in the spring of 2006, none of us imagined that we would be sitting here in early 2010, still waiting on a bypass,” he said. “The mistakes that were made, particularly in the crafting of the contract should serve as valuable lessons for the future. That being said, we saw good progress the second half of last year and with the project now around 80 percent complete, I think we can all look forward to a completion date in 2010, and some much needed traffic relief.”

Montell, who is seeking his fifth term in the House of Representatives, taught high school for nine years, then was hired by a brokerage firm and moved to Shelby County in 1989, where he is the owner of a small investment company.

Elisabeth Martin, the first white woman ever to receive the title of Miss Kentucky State University.

Among her many accomplishments at Kentucky State University where she is a senior, Elisabeth Martin distinguished herself in 2009 by becoming the first white woman ever to be crowned Miss Kentucky State University, a school that has historically been predominantly African-American. At KSU, Martin is a student ambassador, academic center for excellence peer tutor/supplemental instructor, Co-Editor of the KSU Kentucky River Magazine, and KSU student contributor to the QEP Committee. She is also a founding member of the school’s Green Society, an environmental club. She is majoring in English literature, with a minor in International Studies.

“I feel privileged and blessed to be chosen,” she said, adding that she plans not only to continue her duties as Queen right up until the end of her reign in June 2010, but also to break in the next Queen who will be chosen in April.

“I didn’t really know what to do or to expect when I was chosen, and hopefully, this will make it easier on the new queen,” she said.

Martin said some people wondered if she would be able to relate to the African-American students on campus.

“I see what it’s like to be a minority -- and not in the majority,” said Martin, who has attended KSU the past four years.

Turnout for the election was the largest in a decade, with more than 600 students voting out of 2,600.

Martin received 314 votes, beating her nearest competitor by 115 votes, and vote totals for the three other candidates combined were just 323.

Martin said that to her winning the title speaks volumes about the student body’s positive attitude about uniting communities and embracing diversity.

“Your skin tone doesn’t matter,” she said, even though it will be apparent when she poses with other pageant winners from historically black colleges in upcoming editions of Ebony, Jet and Black College Today.

Martin said she knows she will stand out and, in doing so, hopes to embody the spirit of ethnic unity.

“Yes, I’m white.” she said. “But I want to be an example of embracing the diversity of all ethnic groups.”

Lee Bean, minister of Dover Baptist Church, opened a homeless shelter for men in Shelbyville.

Lee Bean, pastor of Dover Baptist Church was a Godsend to homeless men in the county when he opened a homeless shelter for them in November.

The shelter, located at 523 Henry Clay Street, is only a small apartment, but houses homeless men who would otherwise have no place to sleep in freezing weather.

Bean said he wanted to start a shelter for men because women and children who are homeless can get help locally, but there was “nothing for the men.”

He added that though his shelter, which he has dubbed the “Open Door of Hope,” is nothing fancy, it will provide homeless men with a place to sleep and a hot meal.

“Basically, it’s just a place to have dinner and a place to sleep and take a shower,” he said.

He also offers a nightly Bible Study class at the shelter.

Connie Kelly, a volunteer at the shelter, has been a great help to Bean in his humanitarian efforts to help the homeless. She added that she is amazed at the way that the churches in the community have come together to aid Bean in his quest to help the homeless.

“It’s so wonderful the way that this has surpassed denomination boundaries,” she said. “All the churches are really pitching in to help us with furnishing meals and other things, too.”

Bean’s shelter is open to men only from 6 to 8 p.m. each evening. He emphasizes that any man who has no place to go is welcome to come and have a hot meal, a bath and the fellowship and companionship of others. He said he is gratified that his shelter has been so well-received by the community, which has proven its compassion in this endeavor.

“Everyone has been great,” he said. “We have a lot of volunteers who help with food and clothing, and Tommy Chinn who heads up our Bible Study class every night has done a great job; a lot of the men are participating, and I know that Tommy has really made a difference in their lives.”