Vowels named Simpsonville mayor pro tem

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City sidewalk project’s 1st phase nearly complete

By Steve Doyle

The resignation last month of longtime Commissioner Scott McDowell left a gap in the city’s hierarchy that Mayor Steve Eden moved Wednesday to plug.

McDowell, whose job forced him to relocate to Florida and Eden to appoint Michael Hesse to fill his seat, had been the city’s mayor pro tem, and Eden nominated Commissioner Cary Vowels to be his substitute. Commissioners approved unanimously, although Vicky Wise was absent.

“I’m not gone too often – I think I was in Florida once and there was a meeting,” Eden said. “But we needed to fill this spot. This also all allows you to sign paperwork if needed.”

Said Vowels: “I think you’ve missed one in ten years.”

Sidewalk talk

City Administrator David Eaton gave a hopeful report on the ongoing downtown sidewalk project the city has been trying since 2009 to complete. All new water and sewer lines are in use, and only dressing and pavement repair remains on that portion of the project.

“Then we have to hope that our plans are approved in Frankfort and that we can solicit bids,” he said. “We have to open bids for twenty-one days before we can get going on the next phase.”

The process of approval in Frankfort to release the remainder of the city’s grant money has dragged for years in a maze of bureaucracy. All decisions have been made by city officials except hiring the final contractor.

“If we can get the OK in Frankfort in a few days, we can advertise for bids,” Eaton said. “And then maybe, maybe – I say maybe – the first meeting in June, we could approve a bid.”

July 4th plans

Parks Director Chris Truelock told the commission that plans for the Red, White & Boom event on July 4th were well under way. He said the city was contracting with RGS Fireworks – “They have the ‘really good stuff,’" he said – to produce the fireworks, which would begin at dusk.

He said music, games and other festivities would begin at 6 p.m., and he said Old Stone Inn was creating an “adult” event for the evening and furnishing transportation to the fireworks.

“We’re not going to have a parade this year,” he said. “This is our first, so we wanted to do the evening right. We’ll add a parade next year.”

He said organizers are looking for a couple more sponsors for the evening.

He also said that he would be asking for permission to move the fireworks show to July 5th or 6th if weather interfered. City ordinance does not permit fireworks on any day but July 4th, without approval of the commission.

Also at the meeting, commissioners:

  • Heard from Eden that he had a construction meeting on Friday about the widening of Buck Creek Road at Interstate 64, which is scheduled to begin Monday. The construction will accommodate the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville, which Horizon Group Properties is planning to build and open there in the late summer of 2014.  “It’s [the road construction] expected to take about a year,” he said.
  • Approved a financial report  by Vowels that showed the city having collected nearly all its revenue with a quarter of the fiscal year remaining – “Ad valorem taxes are up a bit because of the penalties we’ve collected,” City Clerk Debbie Batliner said – and expenses running a bit below budget. The budget for the sewer board was on target for both revenue and expenses.
  • Heard from Batliner that the city would receive later that morning its $6,000 matching safety grant from the Kentucky League of Cities. The funds previously have been used for some police equipment and to repair crumbling sidewalks around the city.
  • Heard from Truelock that the summer’s first outdoor movie showing would be April 25 in conjunction with the Simpsonville Elementary PTO. The movie will be Wreck It Ralph.