Officials look to 2009

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Elected leaders see hope

By Lisa King

Much of the nation and the state are struggling with the problems caused by a down economy, but the elected leaders of Shelby County are excited about what the 2009 may bring.

City and county officials alike are both looking forward to two huge projects this coming year: the completion of the bypass and to work beginning on the new judicial center.

Shelby County Judge Executive Rob Rothenburger said that he, along with everyone else, is looking forward to these two projects.

"Everyone is excited about it," he said.

He added that also, with President-Elect Barack Obama coming into office, he is anxious to see some positive changes in the economy, especially if Obama's proposed economic stimulus package gets off the ground.

"If that would come about, we could some of these capital projects going again that were shelved in order to balance the county budget," he said. "And not just ours. Everybody put a lot of projects on the back burner, such as road work, bridge repair, new sidewalks, and other things until the economy strengthens."

Both Shelby County Fiscal Court and the Shelbyville City Council have been struggling with falling tax revenues because of reduced labor forces, and those pressures  aren't expected to subside quickly. There could be further cuts if companies such as Martinrea continue to be caught in the struggling automotive industry.

Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty echoed Rothenburger's concern about the county's economic struggles in the coming year.

"The first thing is the state of the economy and what that is going to do to Shelby County in the coming year," he said. "If revenue decreases, then what's that going to do to the city's budget?"

Some of the projects Hardesty is looking forward to include building a new firehouse out on Warriors Way between the two schools. Then, right behind the new firehouse, is the site of the new bypass, a highway that the mayor has high hopes for, he said.

"We have traffic problems in the community and we're hoping that the bypass will relieve some of those problems," he said.

This bypass links the intersection of U.S. 60 and Kentucky 55 with Kentucky 53 and then Kentucky 55 again north of Boone Station Road.

Hardesty also hopes to address some continuing problems, such as illegal immigration.

"I think  the City Council will be involved in these issues and maintain and increase levels of service to the community," he said.

The projects he mentioned all tie in with his No. 1 focus.

"All of this stuff is going to be economy-based on what happens in the next year," he said.

In Simpsonville, Mayor Steve Eden said the biggest thing for his town next year is a downtown study that will be done to evaluate a long-term vision for that area.

"We are really excited about creating a vision for a downtown area," he said.

Also, some sewer and infrastructure projects are very much on the mayor's mind.

"We have the Whitney Young Job Corps Center and the Cardinal Club both wanting to hook up to our sewer, and we are working on that," he said.

Simpsonville officials also will be working with the owners of Leggett & Platt to find new uses and buyers for the facility being vacated in downtown Simpsonville, and the Eaton Corp. will start work on its new call center in the Simpsonville industrial park.