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When we first sat down to measure Shelby County’s success against the goals we had set for it last January, we were expecting to be disappointed. Had we really accomplished anything on our list other than getting a commitment from state highway officials to do an early remedy for the dangerous Exit 32, eastbound from KY 55 onto Interstate 64?
That was stellar work, to be sure, but we also know that there could be difficulty designating the dollars required to accommodate a project we were told could begin next year. Does that tinge this tout?
In hindsight, could we have really expected more than that to happen? No.
The ramp replacement gives us a goal to lead us into January, something squarely in our parallax, something to build from.
But the better news for the year, though, was that in virtually every area we designated as important for Shelby Countians – even those we would grade as incomplete – there was something measurably positive that occurred.
Forward momentum is in itself a great accomplishment in this day and age, something we can mount and ride over the hill and into the valley of tomorrow – even down a newly built ramp to safety.
You may believe there are other items worth mentioning, but here are our grades for Shelby County in 2011.
The 2011 review
Repair Exit 32
There was significant accomplishment to repairing this dangerous access ramp. State officials agreed to develop a plan and start work in 2012. Remaining hitch: Money must be allocated in state budget.
Prosper from census
Census results showed the tremendous growth in the county – particularly in the cities of Shelbyville and Simpsonville – which will increase revenue, and there is grant work to be pursued. Stay tuned.
Complete the judicial center
This one barely made it, with the center opening on Dec. 19, otherwise we hate to think what the grade might have been. But the new center is spectacular and a true item of pride for all of us.
Tackle childhood obesity
This was not a subject that gained great focus, except for some adjustments in school menus. We need this to be a community initiative, as adult diabetes has become, because the latter is driven in many ways by the former.
Develop City Center
There was notable progress on the downtown Shelbyville convention/theater complex. First, the county anted up its share for the feasibility study, which was launched, Operation Care found a new home, freeing a corner of the designated buildings, and, most important, Citizens Union Bank donated two parcels through the city. This makes 2012 feel promising.
Broaden the economic base
The most widely expected development in the retail sector – the opening of the Kroger Marketplace – was successful, but it also opened the space for a new player in the market, Rural King. The down side is that more storefronts remain vacant and that there are no new non-industrial power hitters coming to bat.
All in the family
The entrepreneur spirit remains alive and well, with the opening of new downtown shops – squaring with those we lost – and restaurants in various areas. But their success remains ever fragile, and we worry about important places such as Shelby Artists on Main, which rebranded into a non-profit but remains precarious for its future.
Adopt 7th Street Plan
We can give this one a positive mark based solely on the commitment of Shelbyville City Council member Shane Suttor. He has pushed this study from the beginning, and a wonderful plan was adopted. Now he has suggested a committee be formed to advance the concept, and he was named chair. We like that proactiveness.
Examine U.S. 60 corridor
We share the blame for not edging forward this idea, and we will carry it forward as a goal for 2012. We believe U.S. 60 is the aorta of Shelby County’s down-home values and ultimate potential. Anything we can do to persuade more visitors to leave Interstate 64 and give it a look ultimately will cement a future we could embrace.
Continue green initiatives
The biggest victory here is the addition of Shelby Trails Park to the public facilities in our county. Nothing could be greener than a park mandated to remain natural. That brings up our grade, but we also love the concept being pushed by Bridwell Terhune to build a fitness trail and Red Orchard Park and the wonderful concept of a trail linking Clear Creek and Red Orchard Parks – using the now available Who Da Thot It Bridge, we would suggest – is an imperative for our future. We also congratulate the investments the Shelby County School Board has made into making its buildings more energy efficient and the City of Shelbyville for its pursuit of economically sensible pursuits at its public works facility.